The many sounds of silence
“There are many kinds of quiet,” as author Deborah Underwood and illustrator Renata Liwska reveal in their marvelous new title, The Quiet Book. There is “Don’t scare the robin quiet” and “Best friends don’t need to talk quiet,” as well as more melancholy variations like “Last one to get picked up from school quiet.” Each “quiet” is accompanied by an illustration that expands upon its meaning, such as “First look at your new hairstyle quiet,” in which a young porcupine’s unfortunate haircut first stuns him into silence, then on the next page sends him running to his mother—who implores him to be “sleeping sister quiet” as a cradle rocks in the foreground.
This progression of “quiets,” as it turns out, tells the simple story of a day in the life of several young characters, including a bear, a bunny and a moose (who is not quite successful at “hide and seek quiet”). Liwska’s deceptively simple illustrations give these little ones a friendly, furry texture and oodles of charm, without ever straying from a muted palette of soft and soothing earth tones. From “First one awake quiet,” which shows a bunny doing some morning stretches, to “Sound asleep quiet,” with the same bunny now curled up in bed with an unusual visitor, Liwska’s scenes illuminate Underwood’s spare and comfortingly repetitive text—perfect for a book that will no doubt engender many “Looking at the pictures quiet” moments for its young readers.