A child seems to never say anything at school until a determined classmate gets creative about listening.
A young boy’s silence at school is a point of fascination for his teachers, other students’ parents, and of course, his classmates. One classmate in particular disagrees with other people’s assumptions about the boy’s reticence, and she disapproves of her classmates’ sometimes-cruel gambits to get the boy to speak. Nevertheless, she is just as curious as anyone as to how and why the boy stays so quiet, until she has an epiphany at the science museum, where an exhibit allows her to listen in on fish in an aquarium. Vecchini’s first-person narrative lends itself to a natural immediacy that positions readers alongside the protagonist as she considers her classmate’s inscrutable silence. While the persistent attempts to uncover the mystery have the potential to exoticize rather than uplift difference, the characters’ connection over the deceptively taciturn fish thoughtfully unspools as the boy begins to communicate—first with a smile and later with a surprise phone call. Sualzo’s illustrations deliver emotional dimension with an unassuming color palette and manipulation of perspective and sequential art—truly a narrative in which the visual shares the storytelling reins.
A thoughtful consideration of communication and connection. (Picture book. 4-8)