347J: Emperor’s son’s birthday wish is for all citizens to shout at same time but no one does

This is a book I bring up endlessly when fretting about voting patterns and bystander effect. I no longer can believe whether I really read this book as a small child or not! I recall that it took place in an Asian nation, illustrations were styled after Chinese landscape painting, I recall lots of red color. The emperor's son wants for his birthday to hear what it sounds like when everyone in the nation shouts out at the same time. Horse-riding messengers are sent all over the land to inform the populace to comply, but when the time comes to shout as one, everyone assumes that someone else will do it, so the end result is no one shouts and there is silence over the land.

7 thoughts on “347J: Emperor’s son’s birthday wish is for all citizens to shout at same time but no one does

  1. Zoe

    The submitter forgot a few key details – this is a children’s book, available after probably 1975 (likely not later than 1985).

  2. Meg

    I remember a similar story. My memory is that the emperor wants everyone to do this because he wants to hear the loudest sound ever, and then nobody shouts because they also want to hear it and won’t hear it if they’re shouting. There may have also been something about the amazingness of the silence that happened at that moment. Does this sound like the same story?

    The one clue I can offer is that I believe it was published in Cricket Magazine. (Many authors whose stories appeared in Cricket also published them as stand-alone books.) This would have been around 1972-1980.

  3. Zoe

    This does sound like the same story and Cricket Magazine is a possibility because I got that magazine as a kiddo! Great input, delightful to have my memory of the story enlarged.

  4. Ceci Hanson

    loudest noise in the world
    Book by Benjamin Elkin

    I thought this was a great story, if it’s the one I think it is.

  5. Meg

    The plot thickens! “Loudest Noise in the World” sounds like the right story, but I’m quite certain I never read the 1954 book with illustrations by James Daugherty.

    Cricket did sometimes print previously published stuff with new illustrations. (I was surprised to learn that The Courage of Sarah Noble, which Cricket printed in installments with very ’70’s illustrations, was from 1954.)

    So perhaps they did the same with Loudest Noise? Or it might have been another re-telling of the same folktale?


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