Falgu, an Indian farmer, is trying to escape his noisy farm.
He hitches his oxen to his cart and starts off “to find silence” but soon picks up passengers who create different kinds of sounds. An old man gets on and plays his drum: “dum-dum.” A snake charmer plays “phee-phee” on his pipe. A troupe of dancers tap their feet: “tap-tap-tap.” When they all finally alight, Farmer Falgu “listened to the quiet night.” He recognizes the small nocturnal sounds, “crickets chirping, frogs croaking, the wind whispering,” and finally understands that his animals are noisy because they are happy. The terse onomatopoeic text with its sounds picked out in bold colors will keep young listeners engaged, and the pictures have a Rouault-like flavor with dark outlines and deep colors. Their focus is on Falgu and his experience, and readers hoping for a broader sense of India will not find it here; the snake charmer makes for a rather stereotypical element. This simple story of one man’s dissatisfaction with his surroundings and his emotional change and acceptance of what was once an annoyance is a common theme in picture books, recalling such works as the Caldecott Honor book It Could Always Be Worse, by Margot Zemach (1977).
A quiet discovery that home is best. (Picture book. 3-6)