a list of…five audaciously noisy and sublimely quiet books

Noisy, written and illustrated by Shirley Hughes

I read this so many times to my young children, I think I could recite the entire book still!

Noisy is a book for the littlest ones, a rhyming ramble through delightful sounds.  First come the ecstatically LOUD sounds!  Noisy noises!  Pan lids clashing, Dog barking, Plate smashing.  After a number of these dashing, crashing items, we move on to Gentle noises — Dry leaves swishing, Falling rain, splashing, splishing

This is a book to read slowly; to pause at each sound and attempt to make it, along with your child, starting off with loud, exuberant voices, and growing steadily quieter, until everyone in the story is at last asleep and you and your child are practically holding your breaths to get the “all is quiet” part right.  Lovely for a bedtime read. 

The illustrations are first-rate Shirley Hughes fare — charming domestic scenes with a sturdy preschooler, busy baby brother, slightly harried mom, realistically messy house, and buckets of warmth and love.  Ahhhhh……

The Quiet Book, by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Renata Liwska

This is an unusually philosophical book, really.

Underwood explores the many different kinds of quietness.  There are glad moments of quiet, such as the quiet that comes when you’ve got a lollipop filling up your mouth with cherry sweetness.  There are content moments of quiet, such as the quiet of the first snowfall, the drowsy, magical flakes sending a hush over the world.  There are also scary quiets, embarrassed quiets, suspenseful quiets…

The book is written with sparse, evocative phrases, each one labeling a different kind of quiet:  sleeping sister quiet, first look at your new hairstyle quiet!  The charming illustrations help interpret these phrases for us.  Porcupines, hedgehogs, bunnies, bears…all experience these different kinds of quiet.  The clean, soft lines and light coloration augment the quiet tone of the book.

This is a thoughtful, calm book, perfect for reading and wondering about together.  Even very young children will relate to the various scenarios portrayed here and, perhaps, begin to think about quietness in new ways.

The Loudest Noise in the World, by Benjamin Elkin, with pictures by James Daugherty

Okay.  This one, from 1954, may be hard to find, but it’s worth looking for!

The story takes place in the city of Hub-Bub, the Noisiest City in the World, and “of all the noisy people in Hub-Bub, the noisiest was a young prince named Hulla-Baloo.”  Prince Hulla-Baloo and his friends love to create a ruckus with pots and pans, whistles, drums, bugles, mountains of trash cans and tin pails tumbling over in glorious ear-shattering crashes.  But…it is still not loud enough for the Prince.

For his up-coming sixth birthday, the Prince tells his dad, the King, that he wants to hear the loudest noise in the world.  Louder than the loudest loud noise his dad can dream of!  Prince Hulla-Baloo thinks that if every person in the world would yell, all at once, all at the same moment, that he would be satisfied.  And the king sets out to arrange just that colossal sound.

A very curious thing happens, however.  Most surprising!  In the end, Hub-Bub becomes the quietest city of all, where even the policemen’s whistles are the softest anywhere.  What causes this amazing reversal?  I hope you can locate this book and find out!

The illustrations are typical of James Daugherty’s vivid work — robust, vigorous, strong drawings, packed with motion and life.  A perfect complement to the story.

A Quiet Night In, story and pictures by Jill Murphy

Here is the second of the Mrs. Large books to make its way into my blog.  We love this funny elephant family and their realistic portrayal of the warts and warmth of family life.

There are four elephant children, ranging in age from about 8-year-old Lester down to the baby.  They are a busy, question-asking, sometimes-cranky, sometimes-overly-helpful, swirl of mess and paint and toys and ideas.  In other words — a very typical group of children!

Therefore, to celebrate Daddy’s birthday, Mrs. Large informs the children that the two of them are going to enjoy a quiet night in.  Without children.  Eating tasty food without any unpleasantness.  Mrs. Large expends a Great Deal of Energy getting the children fed, bathed, pajama-clad, and ready for bed early, as well as setting a lovely table for the big night.

You just know things are not going to pan out exactly as planned, don’t you?!  As a matter of fact, Mr. and Mrs. Large do enjoy a very, very quiet night in, while the children wind up with the tasty food…but you’ll have to read the book to learn just how this all comes about!

Brilliant storytelling, a clear understanding of and love for family life, and happy, colorful, warm-hearted pictures make this a story to read again and again.

Carolinda Clatter, story and pictures by Mordicai Gerstein

Once there was a lonely giant who fell in love with the moon,” this story begins.  He’s sooo tall and soooo large, you see, that the moon’s loveliness seems a perfect partner for him.  Yet the moon turns a cold shoulder on all the giant’s wooing, and at last this forlorn giant lies down, and after eons of weeping and mourning, he falls into a deep sleep.

So deep, that forests grow upon him, his tears become waterfalls, and a town is settled on the grand mound that was once his body.  The residents of this little town tell legends of their giant-mountain, and live in fear of making noise, lest the giant should re-awaken.  It is a very, very quiet town.


Carolinda Clatter is born.  Carolinda Clatter does not have a quiet bone in her wee body!  No matter how she is hushed and shushed by her parents and neighbors, Carolinda just erupts in noise wherever she goes!  She loves noise!!

And wouldn’t you know it.  She does wake the giant.  And the terrified townspeople require that she, Carolinda, the noisy one, go up the mountain and coax that giant back to sleep.

How Carolinda manages her meeting with the giant in such a way as to bring him abiding happiness, woo  him back to sleep, and bring music and laughter back to her town is for you to discover when you read this clever, happy, fanciful story.  Brilliant, vibrant illustrations from a Caldecott-winning artist!

Here are Amazon links to these books.  I am an Amazon Associate, which means if you purchase an Amazon item after clicking through on one of my links, I get a wee percent of the sale.

Noisy (Nursery Collection)
The Quiet Book
The Loudest Noise in the World
A Quiet Night in (Large Family)
Carolinda Clatter!