cover image Quiet Please, Owen McPhee!

Quiet Please, Owen McPhee!

Trudy Ludwig, illus. by Patrice Barton. Knopf, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-399-55713-2

Ludwig and Barton, the team behind The Invisible Boy, tackle the challenge of the overly talkative child. Over the course of a few days, redheaded Owen’s chatter stream (conveyed through word balloons) wrecks science class, spoils a movie’s ending, and disrupts story time (“What did he see, Mrs. Fitzwater? Was there a monster? What if it’s not a monster but a g-g-ghost?!”). There isn’t a mean or gossipy bone in Owen’s body; he’s genuinely excited and curious and capable of apologizing—but his peers think he’s thoughtless and impulsive, culminating in his being ostracized from the rest of his class. Before things get too grim, however, along comes the perfect deus ex machina: a case of laryngitis. Forced to write—and listen—Owen becomes more mindful and a more effective collaborator, too. He even helps a team win the class prize for “Strongest Bridge.” Audiences may not agree with an implied suggestion that talkative children observe an occasional “Laryngitis Day” (the final image suggests this is Owen’s new self-disciplining tactic), but they should find the understated, reportorial-style narration and muted, cheery watercolors both sympathetic (to all sides) and most of all, hopeful. Ages 5–8. [em]Illustrator’s agent: Chris Tugeau, CATugeau Agency. (July) [/em]