Maia and the Very Tall Wall, by Brian Wray/Illustrated by Shiloh Penfield, (Sept. 2020, Schiffer Kids), $16.99, ISBN: 9780764360800
Maia is a curious little girl who wonders out loud about anything that interests her. She especially wonders about a strange stone wall that’s behind her house. She notices that wall grows as she gets older; as that wall grows higher, Maia grows shyer, keeping her questions to herself. After multiple tries to get to find out what’s on the other side of the wall, she gathers her courage and states that she wants to know what’s on the other side of the wall: and a voice responds! The voice offers to lower a rope; Maia climbs it, and meets another curious girl on the other side. Having found one another, and their voices, the two are free to discover and explore and invite other children to make their own climb. Maia and the Very Tall Wall is an inspiring story that kids will see themselves in as they may have moved from inquisitive to quiet, worried about speaking up in public. It inspires children to embrace their curiosity and encourage it in others. Author Brian Wray and illustrator Shiloh Penfield create thoughtful stories together; here, Shiloh Penfield uses deep and soft colors to keep the story gentle and calming for readers. Brian Wray has a talent for writing about big emotions and feelings for young people; here, he’s captured the apprehension some children develop for fear of “asking too many questions” or “bothering people” and keeping their thoughts to themselves; this story is his way of nudging those worries away. Sharp-eyed readers will notice one of their precious characters, the stuffed rabbit in Unraveling Rose, riding in a baby carriage.