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Silent Music Hardcover – Bargain Price, March 18, 2008
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Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
Ad 7-10 yrs
Rumford, whose interest in non-European languages has brought young readers Sequoyah (BCCB 1/05) and Seeker of Knowledge (BCCB 4/00), offers here a fictional tale of a young Iraqi boy whose interests comprise not only soccer and “loud, parent-rattling music”, but also Arabic calligraphy. Ali’s dedication to developing his skill prompts his mother to nickname his Yakut, after a thirteenth century calligrapher who “shut out the horror” of a Mongol invasion by fleeing to a tower where he could write in peace. And that, indeed, is just what Ali has done_ blocking out his fear during the 2003 invasion to “[fill] his mind with peace.” Having remarked that many words are easier to form than others , he closes with the weighty observation that “war” flows easily off the pen, while “peace” is much more challenging to master. Clothing and backgrounds are rendered in dense geometric patterns of Arabic decorative art, while text boxes, snippets of Ali’s writing, and an assortments of jottings in various formats are layered into mixed-media collages in radiant, strongly contrasting hues. The view of one boy’s experience in a war-torn country is compelling, especially in light of the historic precedent. Having hooked his audience on the beauty, elegance, and skill of Ali’s craft, however, Rumford gives no real explanation of how written language is constructed (apart from its right to left direction); the few Western alphabet letters he occasionally lays alongside an Arabic word do little to help audiences visualize how or where the component strokes are joined. Children inspired to attempt a bit of calligraphy on their own will therefore need to look elsewhere for guidance, but this may be an inviting peek for Western children into another culture. EB
Jane Addams Children's Book Award Press Release
Silent Music: A Story of Baghdad written and illustrated by James Rumford, an Honor Book for Younger Children, is a Neal Porter Book/Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group. Ali, a boy living in Baghdad today, loves soccer, parent-rattling music, dancing, and, most of all, calligraphy. His lively life, extended family and thoughtful nature flow from pages that weave calligraphy, intricate patterns and backdrops of golden brown into their design. Drawing strength from explicit visual and textual references to Iraq’s long history of literacy, the story of Ali’s passionate practice of calligraphy, first, highlights the power of literacy as a creative force in the midst of war, then, as a metaphor, invites reflection on the difficulty of practicing peace.
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Top Customer Reviews
The fearsome noises and sights of war send Ali to take refuge in his practice of calligraphy. James Rumford shows this in a somber 2-page spread while "one war has become another." The author-artist draws images of war from many sources - - yet, if readers open to any page they will ask themselves what writing can be more beautiful?
James Rumford creates a three-generation family we can truly 'connect' with. Warm relationships are evidenced in his drawings. Watch Yasmin's name flow from Ali's pen, making another statement of rhythm and beauty. Experience the love flowing between grandfather or parents, and children.
Ali finds it difficult to make the transition with his pen from the word War/HARB to Peace/SALAM. In Rumford's Persian-style graphic of an interlocking pattern in which birds escape there are suggestions of M. C. Escher's geometric fantasies such as "Dissolving Boundaries." James Rumford has created another song for Freedom.
Art can make strong arguments for Peace, and each fragment of drawing or calligraphy in this splendid book makes me yearn to know and better appreciate this culture. It took only one glance at "SILENT MUSIC" to know it will be the recipient of many accolades
more impressive than these words by mcHaiku.
As you can see by the calligraphy in this book, the Arabic language is a very beautiful one to write. Just look at his little sister's name Yasmin. Isn't that beautiful? Ali says that some of the words are very hard to write and can "turn into tangled knots of ink" and he has to practice them many times over to get them right. Yakut, his hero, was a famous calligrapher and Ali would certainly have a long way to go to match that talent! Calligraphy was one of those things that Ali practiced a lot in 2003 when the bombs came crashing into his city; it was something that made him comfortable and warm inside. If you want to know how to write the word SAL'M (peace) you can learn how in this book.
I loved the graceful flow of this book and the masterful illustrations illuminated the tale. There are enough examples to spark the interest of the reader to want to pick up a pen and at least try to write a few of the words illustrated in the text. This book is a lovely way to introduce children to another language and culture. In the author's note he discusses the importance of calligraphy in the Muslim world and gives a very brief biographical sketch of Yakut, Ali's hero.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I love James Rumford's books, illustrating his writing with pictures and flowing words. It introduces young people to the wonderful art of Islamic calligraphy, a worthy addition... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Freda C. Shamma
Its great when you can find books to share with your kids that give them a different perspective of the world. This book does that.Published 22 months ago by E Star