Honestly, there just aren’t that many picture books that allude to Herman Melville’s short stories. Lucky for us, now there is one--"Bartleby Speaks!"

Robin Cruise provides readers with an enchanting and humorous take on Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener,” a character who was famous for “preferring not to” do pretty much anything he was asked.  In Cruise’s book, Bartleby is a sweet-faced, large eared toddler, who befuddles his adoring, if loud family by not talking.  No matter how loudly his mother sings opera, or his father plays cello, or his sister tap-dances around him, or the family dog woofs at him, Bartleby stays his delightful, quiet self. 

In honor of Bartleby’s third birthday, Grampy Huddle arrives to join in the celebration.  The illustrations make clear that Grampy is Bartleby’s true kindred spirit, and the plot supports that fact.  The two share a delightful series of experiences in which they say absolutely nothing.  They are, as Cruise says, “as sweet, happy, and curiously quiet as two sugar snap peas in a pod.”

Finally, after he blows out his birthday candles, Bartleby speaks his first word—he tells his family, “Listen!” And they discover something miraculous.

I highly recommend this book.  It does a wonderful job of showing how, sometimes, we need to make time for quiet listening and for people who prefer listening to talking.