One girl’s special sanctuary
The award-winning husband and wife duo of Sarah Stewart and David Small have created a compelling story of empowerment and self-discovery for a 1950s immigrant girl in The Quiet Place. Isabel enjoys her new experiences in the United States like making snow angels and being at school with her smiling teacher, but she misses Mexico—especially her Aunt Lupita. Speaking English is scary, but she practices by writing letters to her aunt, letters that expertly tell the story of her struggle to adjust to her new home.
Isabel’s family is warm and understanding, providing her with large cardboard boxes with which to construct a “quiet place” where she feels safe and secure. As she decorates her special getaway with origami and bright colors, it expands to become her own private world. As she helps her mother bake birthday cakes for the neighborhood children, Isabel begins to feel accepted. The story ends with Isabel’s own birthday celebration—and the whole neighborhood in attendance.
Through Small’s illustrations we learn that the quiet place has become the star of the show and Isabel is able to share the space with her new friends while simultaneously sharing her culture.
Small’s mixed-media illustrations add context and depth to Isabel’s story and serve to complete the letter-narrative. The Quiet Place is a warm and encouraging story of assimilation, not just for immigrants, but for any child trying to find a place in his or her community.