by Sam Juliano
Wait is one of two picture books released in 2015 that includes the titular root word in its title. The connotation of its meaning is literal. The other book, Waiting by Kevin Henkes is to some degree existential. In the former work by Antoinette Portis, there is a constant tug of war between a mother and her young son, both of whom see the practical value in their obstinate posturing. The mother recognizes that a busy street will hamper efforts to make time, so she implores her boy to “hurry,” and holds him tightly by the hand as she heads for the transportation hub. At first siting she eyes her watch while her observant toddler affectionately regards a dachund being walked by a woman behind them. He stalls to pet the dog briefly, but mom rallies to issue another make haste proclamation as she heads back down the street past a fire hydrant and coming up to some road marker, boy in tow clutching a cell phone. Her Hurry! is yet again met with resistance as the boy exchanges salutations with a cement mixer outside the entrance of a park.
Again, mom urges her charger to Hurry! but he is smitten with the prospect of feeding bread to pond ducks wanting to follow the lead of an older man who is well armed for the cause. Alas, on the next page he is seen getting that chance, even while being pulled away by his exasperated guardian, who by chance happens to pass an ice cream truck. Inevitably the boys stops to examine the selections. The mother manages to squelch that aspiration, but again is challenged while passing a pet shop displaying tropical fish in the large front window. The boy, taking his cue from the halting trigger word, is awed as he looks at a loaded aquarium. Coming up on the train station the boy is again waylaid by some greenery where he sees and holds a butterfly. Then the weather intervenes, and mom urges him to Hurry! so they can remain dry, while helping him into some yellow rain gear, as the boy samples some rain drops with his tongue. They hurry up the stairs amidst a row of people with umbrellas, as the boy looks for yet another reason to delay. As they move forward on the platform to approach the open train doors the boy again begs his mom’s indulgence as he sees a colorful conflagration behind tall buildings. The boy then tugs as the flustered matriarch, imploring her to Wait as he points to something. The mother looks and they both observe a spectacular two pronged rainbow across the sky. Faced with such a ravishing visual scheme mom finally agrees with her son: Yes. Wait, and the rites of passage have been achieved. Continue Reading »