Understanding the variety of ways of being human contributes greatly to kindness, tolerance, and empathy. By giving children a window into what it's like to be an introvert — and how it differs from being shy — I Am Quiet raises awareness in outgoing children and builds esteem in those who are introspective.
The narrator, Emile, shares that he is "quiet on the outside, but not on the inside," where his "imagination shouts loudly and runs wild." Illustrator Betsy Petersen — whose charming pictures you may recall from Happy Puppy, Angry Tiger — reveals the vibrancy of a quiet life with adorable, quirky images, such as a panda blowing a trumpet, a gnome holding red balloons, and a rabbit playing chess with a pelican.
On the inside, Emile becomes a "valiant knight who roars louder than dragons" and "the daring captain of a great ship," each with accompanying adventures and challenges to overcome. On the outside, he is no less imaginative. His ideas take form as secret forts he builds for furry friends, paintings of the universe, and listening to nature.
He recognizes that strength and even friendship can be quiet. And when grown-ups say uninformed things like "someday you will come out of your shell" Emile turns the idea on its head, recognizing that within shells "you can hear the entire ocean sing."
This gem is Andie Powers' debut picture book. She draws from her own experience as the mother of a quiet child, Alice. "As a former quiet kid myself, and now a happily introverted adult, I knew that Alice's silence had nothing to do with being timid or apprehensive," Powers writes. "I remember the childhood feeling of grown-ups not fully seeing my true self." Her book helps three to seven year olds — and all of us — learn to recognize and appreciate the true self in those who are quiet.