Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Children's Fiction Fantasy & Magic

Quinn and the Quiet, Quiet

Weird Stories Gone Wrong

by (author) Philippa Dowding

Dundurn Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2019
Fantasy & Magic, Paranormal
Recommended Age
9 to 12
Recommended Grade
4 to 7
Recommended Reading age
9 to 12
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2019
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2019
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


Quinn might get used to the food, Work Bots, and creating the Blue Brick™ … but why are children all around him turning blue?

Quinn Fleet, twelve, Packager (QF12P) has only been at the Work Centre for three days, but he’s already seen a Caver run away, faced interrogation, and been made to stand in front of a crowd of children in the Grand Hall to apologize for breaking a Blue Brick™.

That's when he notices that all the children at the Work Centre look so thin, ragged, and blue.

Why are the children turning blue? Why can they make the strange blue spark when they snap their fingers? What’s the blue shimmer in the air? And why do a renegade Work Bot and an Officer want Quinn to lead the NewBlues to the sanctuary of the Quiet, Quiet?

But more than all that, what is the Quiet, Quiet, anyway?

About the author

Philippa Dowding is a children’s author, poet, musician and copywriter. She has won many industry awards and has had poetry and short fiction published in journals across North America. Her children’s books have been nominated for numerous literary awards in Canada and abroad, including the SYRCA Diamond Willow, OLA Silver Birch, OLA Red Maple, Hackmatack and White Raven awards. In 2017, Myles and the Monster Outside was an OLA Silver Birch Express Honour Book and her 2021 novel, Firefly, won a Governor General’s Literary Award in the Children’s Literature – Text category. Philippa Dowding currently lives in Toronto, Ontario.

Philippa Dowding's profile page

Excerpt: Quinn and the Quiet, Quiet: Weird Stories Gone Wrong (by (author) Philippa Dowding)

Chapter One: Citizen Child QF12P

Tromp. Trod. Tromp.

Quinn trudged, last in the line of Citizen Child workers from BunkHouse-47A. The snow lashed his face. The wind blew from the mountain and chilled him through his thin blue overalls.

In the distance he heard the thud-thud-thud of machines at the Work Centre.

Smoke from the Work Centre filled the air and mixed with the snow that whirled past. In the distance, the huge, shimmering blue glacier hung between the mountaintops and crept down to the edge of the valley.

Quinn stared at the back of the boy ahead of him. He didn’t know his name — Quinn hadn’t really met anyone yet — but the boy had a long, thin face.

Tromp. Trod. Tromp.

The Work Van cleared snow from the road ahead. The engine roared, gears shrieked, treads squealed on the ice.

It will never be quiet again, Quinn thought.

On the side of the Work Van, a picture of a child smiled down. Below the smiling child were the words Citizen Child Blue Brick™ is BEST!

In fact, there were pictures of Citizen Child everywhere. Painted on the side of buildings. Staring from billboards high above. Even stitched as a patch onto the shirt of every child from BunkHouse-47A.

Quinn still hadn’t been there long enough to get used to the weird, smiling face of Citizen Child. He tried not to look at it.

Stunted trees tossed in the sharp wind; snow whirled past. The children trudged along.



An alarm whistle.

Everyone stopped. Quinn tried not to bump into the long-faced boy ahead of him.

What now? Oh, Cavers.

A group of teenagers walked single file through the driving snow toward Quinn and the others in line. The teenagers wore orange overalls that were covered in blue dust from the caves in the mine. Blue dust lined the creases in their eyelids and their ears, clung to their lips. Blue dust fell from them into their footprints in the snow.

The last of the Cavers walked past. The alarm whistle stopped. The line moved forward.

Quinn took a step. Then, suddenly … a Caver slipped into line behind him!

A girl.

“Shhhh,” she whispered.

Quinn gasped. She was a Caver. She wore orange overalls, not blue ones!

“What are you doing? ” he whispered over his shoulder. “They’ll see you! ”

The Caver kept her head down. Thick braids swept over her blue-dusted cheeks.

“Don’t worry! ” Her Citizen Child patch showed her identity number: CU15C. “I’m Clem Usher, 15, Caver. They won’t see me!”

“Clem who? ”

But she didn’t answer. Instead, she did an odd thing: she snatched off her glove, then snapped her fingers. For a second, a tiny blue spark flickered in the air above her hand, then went out.

Quinn gasped again. How’d she do that?

Clem Usher whispered in his ear. “Tell the NewBlues I’m gone! Wish me luck!”


She crouched low, looked around … then dashed behind the Work Van.

A moment later, Quinn watched her run into the snowstorm. For a second, a strange blue shimmer shook the snowy air around her.

What was THAT?

Quinn shook his head and blinked a few times. I could NOT have just seen a BLUE CLOUD swallow her up! I must be going crazy!

Quinn was the only one who had seen Clem Usher run away.

Or so he thought.


The alarm whistles again! The Citizen Child workers halted and stood silently, heads down against the blowing snow. The Work Van stopped and two Officers jumped out. They strapped on short skis and chased after Clem Usher.

Skush, skush, skush.

Then Quinn’s heart almost stopped.

A huge metallic leg unfolded from the Van. A second leg followed. A third.


A Work Bot stepped onto the snow.


Taller than the Van, the Work Bot had a huge, square body. From its metal head shone a bright orange beam of light. The Work Bot tested the snowy surface with its three legs.


Each leg ended in a metal claw for gripping ice and snow.

Run, Clem Usher! Quinn thought.

The Work Bot turned and ran after the Officers.


Then … an Officer stepped slowly out of the Work Van. He had the letter “C” on his chest: the Commander.

Quinn stared at his feet. The Commander walked along the line of children and stopped in front of Quinn.

“Identity!” the Commander barked. All Officers wore masks to block the blue dust, so the Commander’s voice was strangely muffled.

“Q-Quinn Fleet, 12, Packager. ”

“PROPER identity! ”

“QF12P, ” Quinn said.

The other children from BunkHouse-47A shivered in their thin clothes. No one wanted to look at Quinn.

“Well, QF12P, who was that Citizen Child? The Caver you just helped run away? ” The Commander pointed after Clem Usher.

Quinn swallowed.

“I–I don’t know who that was. And … and I didn’t help them run away! ”

“No? Then why did she hide behind you? ”

“Because I was last in line? ”

The Commander shook his head. “Come with me, QF12P. ”

The Commander yanked Quinn out of line. The last thing he saw was the long face of the boy ahead of him.

The boy stared at Quinn for a moment.

Then, in the next second, he ripped off a glove.

The boy snapped his fingers.

A tiny blue spark lifted into the air!

That blue spark again! How do they do that? The Commander shoved Quinn into the dark Work Van. The door slammed shut.

And Quinn Fleet, 12, Packager, was all alone in the dark.

Editorial Reviews

Quinn and the Quiet, Quiet is a timely tale about what can happen when we destroy the only home we have ever known....Writing in clear and concise language, Philippa Dowding has done a great job at taking a very serious topic and making it age-appropriate. Overall, a very enjoyable read.

CM: Canadian Review of Materials

Other titles by Philippa Dowding