Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Quiet Book

The first time I saw the cover for The Quiet Book I knew I had to own it. I skimmed through the book in the bookstore but didn't have the cash to buy it. It was a tense couple of days before I could get back to the store and pick up my own copy. I was worried they would be sold out. I'll freely admit that I judged this book by its cover. And it didn't let me down. If you don't own a copy of this quiet, gentle book, you need one.

There is no true plot to The Quiet Book, written by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Renata Liwska. You'll note that their names don't show up on the front cover. Another example of quiet. In some ways the story follows a group of woodland creatures (focusing on bunny) from morning until night as they experience all the different types of quiet. Starting with "First one awake quiet" and ending with "Sound asleep quiet", this book touches on every inventive moment for quiet you can imagine. Each phrase is only a fragment but the words, combined with the illustrations, speak volumes. One of my favorites was "Pretending you're invisible quiet" as we see a little bear covering his eyes, as he stands next to the nurse who is getting ready to give the bear a shot. That is immediately followed by "Lollipop quiet" as we see the creatures who had to get shots sucking contentedly on a lollipop. The mix of words and images is perfect.

Liwska's illustrations are sweet, enduring, and beautiful in their own way. She uses pencil to create the characters, who have a bit of an unfinished quality, and then colors them digitally. This slightly rough look give her creatures their fur and feathers. I loved looking at the tiny lines that make up these charming scenes. Each character is imbued with tons of emotion. I felt so bad for moose at the beginning of the book, as we see her sitting on the stairs with the words "Last one to get picked up from school quiet". There are happy quiets and sad quiets and sweet quiets. But each quiet is captured beautifully.

Each page seems to have one side that is very simple, with lots of white backgrounds and few words. The other side is filled with images and a bit of a longer phrase. I'm not sure if it was intentional but I like the juxtaposition. One scene has a barber shop with a very sad little porcupine getting his hair cut off. The whole picture is filled with color and the phrase at the bottom is "First look at your new hairstyle quiet". This is opposite the same porcupine at home with his mother's concern at the haircut. But the words at the bottom are "Sleeping sister quiet". I could just imagine the hushed comforting. Such a tender scene. In fact all the pages are tender and sweet and gentle and quiet. A beautiful book. So wonderful. For me it was a must have.


  1. We have similar taste in picture books. This was my favorite of 2010. I reviewed it, as well. Even the pictures were "quiet" with the light colors and soft texture.

  2. I hope you don't mind, I checked out one of your blogs as well. It does look like we have similar taste. I look forward to seeing how we agree and disagree on other titles.

    I loved Renata Liwska's artwork so much I wrote a post on my other blog about her gorgeous and adorable work. I'm so in awe of that kind of artistic talent. And it sounds like I'm not alone. Thanks for the comment. Glad you enjoyed.