cover image Sullivan, Who Is Always Too Loud

Sullivan, Who Is Always Too Loud

Micol Ostow, illus. by Brian Biggs. Roaring Brook, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-250-30772-9

Redheaded, freckled Sullivan is struggling to self-regulate, and it all comes out (“Not just sometimes. Not just often”) in his voice. When he says “hello,” bright, huge capital letters spill off the page, and Biggs (The Space Walk) draws Sullivan with his mouth hinged open so wide that readers see the back of his throat. Sullivan’s patient mother applauds his efforts to tone it down, for example by taping multiple pillows around his mouth (“It’s a start” becomes the book’s refrain), but as Ostow (the Louise Trapeze series) has her protagonist explain, “I have loudness. In my body. Bubbling up. Always,” and readers can see it’s literally true: Sullivan’s cheeks fill up with green, gassy-looking bubbles until he simply can’t contain them. But a tip from Mama (“Have you tried counting one, two, three?”) seems to help some at school, and Sullivan learns that, used judiciously, a loud voice can be an asset. Though a scene in which Sullivan is praised for shouting at another child may not sit well with sensitive readers, this book should be a boon for often-misunderstood exuberant children while modeling compassionate behavior for the adults who love them. Ages 4–8. Agents: Jodi Reamer and Steven Malk, Writers House. (Oct.)