Junior was about to start a new book when….
“Come on, everyone. I’m trying to read here! Can’t you practice somewhere else?”
It was Gerald, Zoey, Burt, Dot, and little Jerome, Junior’s brothers and sisters. And today was band-practice day!
Junior’s brothers and sisters were the noisiest giraffes in the forest. All Junior wanted was a little quiet time to read his new book.
Maybe down at the pond….
Russ Willms’ Quiet, Please! is a funny little story about a giraffe named Junior who just wants a little bit of peace and quiet away from his noisy siblings in order to read his new book (which made an instant attempt to capture my librarian heart!) Junior’s five siblings are apparently the noisiest giraffes in the forest, each with its own loud and annoying sounds (not to mention the band and singing practices which apparently need to be done around Junior!) Junior tries various locations to read his book as well as varying ‘noise cancelling’ techniques, all of which are unsuccessful. When he finally finds a space which he feels far enough away from his brothers and sisters, he is still interrupted by his youngest brother, little Jerome, who wants to know what he is doing. Junior explains he is reading his book, and, before little Jerome can get an edgewise word in, Junior starts reading to him. Little Jerome becomes captivated and shushes the other four siblings when they stumble across the brothers. All become enraptured with Junior’s reading and turn over a new, quieter page in their behaviour.
Quiet Please! will elicit chuckles from readers with the corny jokes, varying bodily noises made by Junior’s siblings, and other sound effects throughout the story. Junior has some equally entertaining ideas on how to drown out the noises from his brothers and sisters. Readers older than grade 2 will likely find the book predictably cliché, though the familiar illustrations will captivate a variety of audiences. Willms’ carefree, whimsical cartoons have been featured widely in well-known outlets such as Scholastic and Chirp magazine, and he has other published picture books, including Who Will Pull Santa’s Sleigh? and Elephants Do Not Belong in Trees. His skill shines through in his ability to make six would-be identical giraffes become distinctively different with both obvious and subtle details like clothing accessories, hair length, and spot size.
As enticing as this book was, with the main character being a bibliophile, Quiet, Please! fell a little short of becoming a much-loved classic. It has a unique idea, some humorous middle elements, and an interesting twist at the end, but it’s missing a little bit of magic. A younger audience will still very much enjoy this book for a read or two or three, but it does not have the staying power to become a regular re-read. Quiet, Please! is recommended for libraries and classrooms where it will reach a wide audience and be read a multitude of times, but it would not garner a place on my home bookshelf.
Dawn Opheim is an avid reader with a Masters Degree in Teacher-Librarianship from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.