Listen by Holly M. McGhee is a spiritual and deep story. The reader can interpret the whom (the narrator) that is speaking as either an all-knowing narrator or it is plausible that the book is the child that we see in Pascal Lemaitre’s illustrations. Either interpretations make for interesting reading depending on your choice as both narrators are valid choices.
The plot is to inspire empathy and to have us open all of ourselves, all our senses, to become aware of nature, of the world around us, the people, places and things around us and to become aware of everything that surrounds us and is inside of us.
Lemaitre’s illustrations can be a bit awkward and odd at time, yet at the same time they are comforting and sweet illustrations. There is a softness to them that accents the awareness author and illustrator are trying to cultivate. They are almost impressionistic, but with a realism as well. Soft tones, colors and lines create the mindful presence the author wishes to portray.
Both text and illustrations are lyrical and encourage the reader to use all their senses to explore the world. Social themes, concepts, nature and senses all blend together for a peaceful and cozy reading.
This is in the style of McGhee and Lemaitre’s other book, Come with Me dealing with issues and feelings that arise after events such as 9/11 and 2017 attack in Brussels. Both author and illustrator create stories that have a deep theme but are accessible to the younger readers and listeners.