Imagine a house where there is never any peace and quiet. Brothers and sisters "stamping and stomping and screeching." Traffic going by "rumbling and bumbling." All the noise of doors, dishes, and dogs. "And parents talking - on and on and on." For a quiet child like Wren there doesn't seem to be any escape from all the racket. When a new baby sister arrives and cries nonstop, it is the last straw. "She was louder than a train and wailed for longer than a fire engine." Who wouldn't want to escape from all that? Wren goes to stay with his grandparents and soak up the peace and quiet. Yet, as often happens, when someone gets what they have been longing for, it is not as satisfying as had been hoped.
Vibrant illustrations match the amount of noise being produced. Sister beats on a drum, brothers play at pirates, Mom's radio blares in the garden, cars honk their horns. cymbals clash, Dad and a neighbor gossip over the fence. Is there no place where a child can escape from the constant cacophony? When the new baby arrives, her cries of "WAHHHHH" leave her mouth and wrap around everyone and everything on page after page. Even when Wren tries sleeping in a tent in the backyard the cries drift out into the yard, too. By comparison the yard at Grandpa and Gram's house is practically silent. Wren is shown relaxing on a blanket and gazing up at the clouds as they float silently overhead. Bit by bit the quiet begins to pall and Wren misses the sounds of home.
The best scene of all (to me) is when Wren at last holds the new baby and she smiles and falls asleep. "Perhaps all she wanted was a little bit of peace and quiet. Just like him." In a house full of noisy family and pets, it feels right that Wren finally has someone who doesn't want all the hullaballoo, just like him. Perfect for the child who is sensitive to noise, or a bit more withdrawn than their siblings or classmates. Everyone doesn't have to be alike to have their place in the group and something important to contribute.