Quiet! By Céline Claire,  illustrated by Magali Le Huche

Quiet! by Céline Claire,  illustrated by Magali Le Huche, translated by Mirielle Messier. Milky Way Picture Books, c2018, 2021. 9781990252044

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3

Format: Hardcover picture book

What did you like about the book?  What happens when what you wish for turns out to not be what you want? Mr. Martin, living alone with his black cat, loves peace and quiet. His neighbors try to oblige, even holding down the noise when a circus comes to town, but it’s so much fun that eventually the sound leaks out. Angry Mr. Martin storms into the hardware store and decides to try an expensive magical solution. Following the directions on a mysterious can, he creates a giant blue bubble that encases his house and yard. It works! Inside the shimmery walls, everything is peaceful. But the silence is also deafening; Mr. Martin feels cut off and alone. One little boy notices his distress and rallies the town but alas, the tough bubble resists their efforts to break through. Finally the children all combine their soft sweet voices and burst the bubble, freeing Mr. Martin who begins dancing. He’s learned his lesson: enjoy the sweet music of life. The very cute pen and ink illustrations with bright digital color accents show an energetic, diverse, and colorful town and reminded me of master illustrator Jules Feiffer, especially his classic drawings for The Phantom Tollbooth.

Anything you didn’t like about it? There wasn’t much suspense – it was pretty easy to predict that Mr. Martin was going to end up regretting living inside a giant bubble, cut off from all human contact. I also found it hard to work up much sympathy for him; his only defining characteristic was a need for quiet. The translation from the French was a bit stiff.

To whom would you recommend this book?  The illustrations are very quaint and interesting, which may draw young readers. Maybe children who have family members who always want QUIET!  (here I’m thinking older relatives) may relate to Mr. Martin’s desire for silence.

Who should buy this book? Public libraries

Where would you shelve it? Picture books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: May 21, 2022

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