The other day I was talking to a coworker about a book he loved, I Go Quiet by David Ouimet. First, the author picture looks exactly how you would picture this author/illustrator. Not young, not old, and not conservative. The wild mane of hair and the twinkle in his eye made me realize that yes, he is the only person who could have written and illustrated this book.
Second, it is hard to explain the book, but the cover gives you a lot of it. A narrator asks questions like, “How should I sound?” and “How should I look?” The answer is: like everyone else. However, our narrator does not always feel that way, and wishes to go another way. But they are always Quiet. This book gives off 1984 and futuristic dystopian vibes. It is surreal and not always obvious, yet there is no question to what is going on. It is a combination of realistic and total fantasy.
The text is short and simple, but of course, has a lot to say. But it is the illustrations that really grab you and smack you around. They are dark, gloomy, and spooky. There are mostly deep, rich colors that are not bold, but you cannot help but notice them. There are few happy colors yet there is some “light” seeping through the browns, white, gray, and blue gray. There are some areas your eye is drawn to due to the angles of a roof or window. And other times there are areas your eye is drawn because it is round, yet still looks sharp. The use of white and a particular mask is interesting to the overall story.
This mask is probably in many ways the most important part of the book. It gave me vibes of the graphic novel MAUS. However, I can see others finding other references for it as well.
I probably would not give this to a child. My coworker said, “The right child. Or and older child.” Yet, the picture book format could discourage that 8- to 12-year-old from reading. Tell them it is a graphic novel and not a picture book. Be that as it may, I would give this more quickly to an adult. Especially to one who appreciates art. As that is what the book is in the end. A piece of art.