In this story, the Silence is far from the emptiness some people expect when sounds recede. Illustrator Ninon Pelletier envisions the Silence as a large, gentle, cloud-like being, with pink cheeks, an appealing smile, and little curvy ears — not unlike an enormous teddy bear — who hovers shyly yet protectively near a young girl whose day we follow. The Silence waits to soothe the jagged edges left by the Noise who, while not exactly unfriendly, has wide eyes, pointed ears and fingers, a wide mouth (of course), and an aggressive gait.
The Silence slips in after the clamor of a birthday party abates, after the baby goes to sleep, "after the Noise's tantrum of thunder and rain has rolled on." In one of the book's most memorable scenes, the girl in her yellow raincoat stands at one end of a rainbow, dark clouds and lightning now behind her, while the Silence bends over an umbrella at the other end, trying to open it. A lake picks up the reflection of the girl and her house without a single ripple.
This book will be a comfort to any 4-7-year-old child. Quiet ones will be reassured by the loving gestures of the Silence and its friend the Dark tucking in the girl with warm, soft blankets. Noisier children will be intrigued by the idea that the Silence retires to quiet rooms, peaceful gardens, the forest, and even the deep, deep sky — here's a mystery to pursue! They may want to follow this encouragement: "the Silence will come back, whenever you call it. Whenever you need it. Even in the midst of the Noise and its ruckus."
The book leaves us with an impression of interiority. Many children are naturally inclined toward this peaceful, composed quality, but in a busy and noisy society it needs the affirmation that Hughes and Pelletier, in their sympathetic collaboration, provide.