Author/Illustrator: Divya Srinivasan
My rating: 5 of 5
Octopus enjoys watching life in the ocean unfold around her, other sea creatures having fun. But sometimes it all just gets to be too much, and she needs to be alone. One day, she swims away until she finds somewhere quiet and alone where she can play by herself in the quiet . . . but after a while, she’s ready to return to her friends back home.
As in her Little Owl books, in Octopus Alone, Srinivasan does a delightful job of blending story with education about nature. We are shown a charming variety of sea creatures doing what sea creatures do, all drawn in the author’s usual gorgeous and distinguished style. And this would be a good children’s book just for that. But we get something more, as well–we get a main character with an established, distinct personality. One that tends to go against a lot of social expectations, no less. In point of fact, we get a picture book with an introverted main character, one that wrestles with that fine balance between needing relationships and needing to be alone sometimes. As an introvert myself, reading this in a children’s book is just brilliant. Whether it’s helping introverted kids understand themselves or helping extroverted kids understand that some people need more space and quiet than they do, this book is something that is just helpful and timely. Highly recommended, for the art, for the animals, for the story, and for the social aid that this book clearly is.
Author: Susan Cain
My rating: 4.5 of 5
Did you know that somewhere between one-third and one-half of the people in this world are introverts? Sure doesn’t seem like it most times. In fact, a lot of the time, it seems like if you’re not talking all the time and involved in all sorts of social activities, there’s something wrong with you. But what if there’s more to the quiet people than meets the eye? If there are things hidden inside that the extroverts of the world would do well to take the time to listen to?
I’m usually not really into non-fiction very much, but I really enjoyed reading Quiet. As someone who is constantly being told to speak up, to be more aggressive, to be more involved, I feel the messages of this book very personally. It does a great job of affirming introverts without excusing them from the real world–because let’s face it, it’s probably impossible to just hide away somewhere for the rest of your life. At the same time, this book provides a powerful message for extroverts, showing a bit of what’s going on inside quiet people, the different things they need, and the unexpected insights that introverts can have. The author does a good job of compiling lots of different research and drawing logical conclusions from both that and her own experience, while at the same time presenting the material in a very readable, approachable manner. One of the things I most appreciated was the practical recommendations Cain gave for handling life as an introvert–nothing groundbreaking perhaps, but very practical things that you might not think of normally. I would recommend Quiet especially for introverts who need encouragement and (perhaps even more so) for extroverts.