Cover image for I go quiet
I go quiet
First American edition.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : illustrations (some color) ; 28 cm
Reading Level:
460 Lexile.
A young girl who feels misunderstood and different stays quiet, turning to books to find a place where she can connect with the world and where her words hold power.


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How do you find your voice, when no one seems to be listening? In David Ouimet's spellbinding debut, a young girl struggles to make herself heard, believing she is too insignificant and misunderstood to communicate with the people in her life.Anxious about how she thinks she should look and speak, the girl stays silent, turning to books to transport her to a place where she is connected to the world, and where her words hold power. As she soon discovers, her imagination is not far from reality, and the girl realizes that when she is ready to be heard, her voice will ring loud and true.Ouimet's stirring and haunting illustrations masterfully capture how it feels to be a lonely, self-conscious child unsure of how to claim a space in the world.

Author Notes

David Ouimet is a New York-based artist and musician. He has illustrated several children's books and his work has appeared on album covers, in magazines, and in newspapers, including the New York Times.

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 1--4--This picture book is a deep contemplation about neurodivergence and perceptions of difference, despite its spare text. In a massive surrealist industrial city where the hordes wear cat masks as they operate machinery, a young girl dons a mouse mask and "goes quiet." In a first-person narrative comprised of short phrases, the narrator states that she is different, "the note that's not in tune." The illustrations are dark in color and in sentiment. They are both charcoal smudged and intricately detailed, with the city's controlled chaos leaving a feeling of claustrophobia on the page. The setting seems both old-fashioned and futuristic, and bustling spreads are well-balanced with several paneled pages and and those with ample white space. The story turns around when the girl finds a library and literally climbs out of her darkness into an inner calm. This allows her to recognize her place in the world and her potential voice. She states, "When I am heard I will build cities with my words. They will not be quiet." VERDICT While not a light read, this book is an important resource for children who don't feel they fit in. Purchase this hauntingly beautiful story to show them that they are not alone.--Clara Hendricks, Cambridge Public Library, MA

Publisher's Weekly Review

"When it's my turn/ to speak,/ I go/ quiet." This eerie, brooding picture book for older readers follows a girl whose sense of alienation isolates and silences her. She trudges alone through an unrecognizable, dreamlike city and into a gloomy, dystopian institution filled with hostile peers. All the children carry catlike masks, to be worn at prescribed times. The girl's is a mouse mask; in one spotlit scene, she removes it. "I would leave if I could fly," she says, looking up at the ceiling. Yet there is redemption. Reading is the girl's solace, she says, and although artwork by musician and artist Ouimet, making his picture book debut, stays dark, readers see intricate, delicate tendrils of life beginning to spread: "When I read, I feel that every/ living thing is part of me." In this way, she is led to solid ground: "I may be part of everything too," she decides. "And I am not small." Though the conclusion doesn't bear traditional signs of transformation, Ouimet provides the girl with promise: a sense of refuge, faith that all will be well, and a voice that will, "someday," be heard. Ages 6--8. (Mar.)

Kirkus Review

A child is too intimidated to speak in a dark, forbidding environment.Appearing small and isolated among richly detailed, atmospheric, even frightening illustrations that present a bleak, dystopian, mechanistic world where grim uniformity is the norm, the school-age narrator describes feeling misunderstood and alone. Because the child is timid and small and different, the child chooses silence. The world surrounding the narrator is oppressively populated; it's primarily awash in somber shades of browns, blues, and grays. Both the white-appearing narrator and diverse classmates resemble hollow-eyed, sorrowful automatons and occasionally wear mouse masks. Some students sport peculiar hairdos. It's unclear if the sober society depicted is real or if the author/illustrator is suggesting that this world feels this strange to the introverted, shy, and quiet. Yet all isn't hopeless in this disquieting story: Though the narrator seems troubled at being muted, the child possesses a lively imagination and recognizes how important silence is when reading, which is depicted as liberating. At the end, the protagonist is confident that this love of reading will someday enable a powerful voice that will finally be heard. Ouimet overplays his pessimistic hand, for, at this point in the narrative, his colors, oddly, don't significantly brighten. This is off-putting and belies what seems to be meant as an uplifting, empowering message about books and communication. Not very child friendly, though it's thought- and conversation-provoking for older readers willing to engage with picture books. (Picture book. 7-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

The story seems simple enough: an introverted girl goes quiet when others are around. I sing silence, she muses, as loud as I can. Often others whisper when she enters a room, perhaps because she is self-admittedly different. As if to underscore this, she is always alone, even when surrounded by a sea of other children, all of whom wear identical cat masks, perhaps to demonstrate their conformity or simply to menace. The girl, too, has a mask, but hers is different, the face of a mouse. She would leave, she thinks, if she could fly, and, indeed, there's a picture of her soaring like the ravens that clutter the sky. Happily, she does find escape in books and reading. Ultimately, the story and the text that tells it are slender but large in their universality, while the paintings that accompany them are eye-poppingly rich and elaborate. In mostly monochromatic shades of gray, they evoke a steampunk atmosphere, one filled with elaborate machines, smog, and smoke. They also depict vast interior landscapes: a crowd of children filling a classroom that extends as far as the eye can see, and an enormous library with soaring ladders. The result is a thought-provoking tale that is both tantalizing and timeless, where disquiet is dispelled through hope and sprouting confidence.--Michael Cart Copyright 2020 Booklist