I've reviewed Kim Chatel's books before, and was eager to get my hands on her latest, A Talent for Quiet, (Guardian Angel Publishing.) What a truly lovely book!
While I would classify A Talent For Quiet as a picture book, it's not for the under 6's. I think kids from 6-12 would enjoy it. I know that sounds like a big range for a picture book, but stay with me on this.
Chatel is not just an excellent and versatile writer, she's a creative artist too. Her photography provides the illustrations for the book, and in back, there's a guide to encourage kids to develop their own camera skills. Of course it's not a definitive guide, there isn't the space. But these tips from an experienced photographer help kids get the most out of what may well become a fascinating hobby. Thus the book does double duty as a story to enjoy, and a resource for budding photographers.
The story is about Reanie. Reanie isn't one of those in-your-face, bounce-a-ball, exuberant kids. She's quiet, shy, and not too sure how she feels about her new step-father, Bill. When Bill takes Reanie on a photo safari one morning, he asks her if she can be quiet enough not to scare birds away. While Reanie doubts her own abilities, she's pretty sure she has a talent for quiet. And so she does. Reanie leads the reader along the river's edge, spying geese, frogs, crawfish and the elusive grey heron, while exploring her new-found talent.
A Talent For Quiet isn't a noisy, in your face book. It's a gentle story about a very real child coming to terms with her new life. If you have a quiet child, you'll certainly appreciate the message I perceived: noisy or quiet, we all have talents, and they can be found in unexpected places. If your son or daughter is looking for a hobby, this book could be a great introduction to the wonderful world of photography. If you're looking for a story that explores real relationships, and the caring dynamic between a step-parent and a child, seek this one out.
To me, the book is a celebration of natural beauty, and the art form that captures it with a camera. Chatel's writing is skilled, understated, and expertly leads the reader on a special journey - toward the discovery of a unique talent, in a quiet place.