There is no doubting the power of words. Plenty of research has been done highlighting the very many advantages of stories and the magic of books and there are countless case studies of young people unhappy in the real world who find hope in the characters and lands they can explore through literature. It is this idea which forms the basis of David Ouimet’s stunningly illustrated book, I Go Quiet.
A young girl travels through her daily life in self-imposed silence. People don’t understand her, she is worried about saying the wrong thing, she is different and so she dreams instead: what if she could fly? What if she could soar? What if she could ride through forests on the back of magical beasts? Parallels can be drawn here with the recent Truth Pixie books by Matt Haig which have a similar theme of a young girl struggling to find her voice. The message in I Go Quiet is so heartfelt that although a children’s book at its core many adults will think back to their own childhoods as they read and smile at the message of hope and promise which, with hindsight, they will have the luxury of recognising.
The images are dark and really do give a feeling of living in a sombre place until she flies, she soars, she rides. The figures in the illustrations have similarities to those of L.S Lowry, so many in number and, like Lowry’s, set against an industrial cityscape. Initially this oppressive city overwhelms the young protagonist but through reading she realises it could be something far more, she could create something far more.
Alongside these alluring images there is a beautiful extended metaphor of a musical note which draws the short story together starting as “the note that’s not in tune” and ending as “a shimmering noise.” This is an altogether charming book which can be read and read over and over again and still leave the reader smiling by the final turn.