Here and Now by Julia Denos, illustrated by E. B. Goodale

 Here and Now by Julia Denos
Illustrated by E. B. Goodale
Review Copy from Houghton Mifflin
Two years ago, I reviewed Windows, the first picture book collaboration from Denos and Goodale, calling it a gift of a book. Here and Now is yet another thoughtful gift of a book that grew out of Denos' mediation practice. Beginning with the words, "Right here, right now, you are reading this book," the mostly white page shows hands holding the book, exactly where your own hands would be if you were reading out loud and had someone sitting in your lap. With each page turn, words and pictures bring awareness to the present moment while also expanding out from right where you are to the world beneath and around you, peacefulness radiating from every page.
Bringing readers back again to the moment of sitting and reading this book, Denos reminds readers of all the other things that are happening in this moment, all over the world; "Rain is forming in the belly of a cloud. . . An idea is blooming . . . Muscles are growing, cities are growing, babies are growing. Cuts and broken bones are sewing up and healing. Unseen work is being done." This final sentence is paired with lovely picture of two people, the girl seen throughout the book, hugging a taller person. Denos ends her book by echoing the words with which she begins it, "Right here, right now, YOU are becoming. Isn't it wonderful?"

Goodale's illustrations pair perfectly with the text and theme of this book. They are fluid and full of movement, and also still and quiet, with a cool palette and dreamlike quality. An author's note gives readers insight into Denos's inspiration and practice, revealing her choice to replace the in-and-out breath of meditation with "words and page turns to help ground readers in their own moment - in that way, the book is a real-time meditation," or noticing. In a time when there are so many things to distract children - from play, from learning and growing, from themselves - a book that guides them to noticing is invaluable.

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