This novel is about a typical class of easily excited and slightly out of control 5th graders, so much so, that the teachers have nicknamed them "The Unshushables." Dave Packer, the protagonist, could first be considered a leader in his class. As an "Unshushable," Dave is a leader by example. He is a charismatic student who likes to talk nonstop. But unlike a stereotypical chatterbox, Dave is also a thinker. After reading about Mahatma Ghandi, and his remaining silent for long stretches in order to clear his mind, Dave wants to give the idea a try.
He sets out to accomplish this on his own at first, showing that he is not merely swayed by peer pressure, but rather is someone who is independent and somewhat daring to go against what everyone else is doing. He also displays self-control and perseverence in this quest. His idea eventually leads to a boys vs. girls no-talking challenge and Dave (along with the rest of the class) proves to be somewhat immature compared to typical 5th graders as the class indulges in a very heated gender rivalry. By the end of the story, Dave and the rest of the class learn valuable lessons as a result of the experience which shows that Dave is a dynamic character who is changed for the better.