A boy who talks too much gets some lessons on the importance of listening from his classmates…and laryngitis.
The book sets the tone from the start, dialogue balloons with fading text filling the opening spread, Owen’s poor dog on her back with paws over her ears. But that’s just the start. Subsequent spreads demonstrate how Owen’s loquaciousness negatively affects his classmates on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Thursday, though, brings a bout of laryngitis that stops Owen in his tracks. Writing everything down takes so much time! Retreating from the playground, where he just can’t keep up, he finds Isabella working on a bridge project he ruined on Monday. After his heartfelt written apology, she invites him to help her, and he becomes the fourth member of a successful team. The ending reflects real life in that Owen still has bouts of talkativeness, though now he does also listen for others’ input…and he schedules regular laryngitis days on his calendar. Barton’s pencil-and-digital illustrations portray a very diverse classroom headed by a black male teacher; red-headed Owen himself presents white, and Isabella has pale skin and black hair. Faces are incredibly expressive; readers will have no doubt how Owen’s classmates feel about his interruptions during storytime or his plot-spoiling at lunch. Discussion questions that will require some deep thinking round out the book.
Similarly talkative youngsters struggling with social interactions may want to schedule their own laryngitis days. (Picture book. 4-8)