Written and illustrated by Antoinette Portis
Roaring Brook Press, 2015
The plot in a nutshell: A boy slows down to look at the world around him.
A mother and son are going about their day together. Mom tells the boy to hurry, but he asks her to wait so he can pet a dog. She’s trying to hurry through the park, but he wants to feed the ducks. As she continues urging him to hurry, he asks her to wait for the ice cream man, a peek in the pet shop window and a butterfly he spies in some flowers. It starts to rain and the mom is more urgent with her requests to hurry as they run to catch their train. On the train platform, he is equally urgent that she wait and she sees that he is pointing out a beautiful double rainbow over the city. And she agrees that it is worth waiting for.
Using only three different words in the text (‘hurry,’ ‘wait,’ and ‘yes’), author/illustrator Antoinette Portis creates a simple but very powerful story about slowing down to take in the world around you. Anyone with children will recognize this dynamic, with the mother hurrying forward and the child wanting to stop and examine things. I like that Ms. Portis never shows either party in this scenario as angry with the other one. It’s important not to portray the mom as a villain here, because the simple truth is that sometimes you do have to rush in this world, even when there are beautiful things all around begging for your attention. But when her son indicates that it’s important to stop and wait, she does so happily.
The artwork was done in pencil, charcoal and ink with digital color and the story appears to be set in Chicago (judging from the scenery). There are lots of cool visual moments here, such as the pet shop window where a fish swimming by is positioned in just the right spot to make his eye match up with the boy’s eye. Overall, the book has a really happy feeling that encourages you to look around at all the things you may be missing on the paths that you take in your own daily life.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that hurrying gets you there faster, but taking your time helps you enjoy the trip more.