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on April 4, 2008
ALI is a schoolboy with a yen to play soccer and listen to loud music. Sound familiar? No surprises there. Now consider that Ali is a contemporary Iraqi boy who lives in Baghdad and has everyday acquaintance with most aspects of the war/occupation.

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.
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on June 15, 2009
This beautifully illustrated book tells the story of Ali, a young boy who lives in contemporary Baghdad. Ali loves playing soccer and listening to loud music, but more than that, he loves writing calligraphy. This celebration of writing and art invokes the story of the master calligrapher Yakut, who lived in Baghdad eight hundred years ago, also during a time of war. This timeless story is sure to enchant students and parents alike.
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on June 11, 2014
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 to every child's library.
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on July 14, 2011
A beautiful picture book that helps American children relate to a child of Iraq. It also makes the reader work at the quiet-yet strong message that war is easy-peace is hard. A must have in philosophy circles or world geography class. As a teacher of grade six - this is relevant and poignant for students to make so many connections while building schema. ENJOY the Silence.
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Ali is a boy who lives in Baghdad with his family and friends. Baghdad is the capital of Iraq and is the largest city in that nation. He loves to play soccer, loves loud music, loves to dance, but most of all he loves to practice calligraphy. Calligraphy in his language are letters that flow from the right to the left. Ali is very passionate about his language and says "I love to make the ink flow-from my pen stopping and starting, gliding and sweeping, leaping, dancing to the silent music in my head."

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.
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on September 13, 2009
Each time i read this book - to myself, or with others - I find something new to marvel at. The drawings, the detail, the designs on the wallpaper in the background. It's a masterpiece, and should be read by everyone, not just children.
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on April 10, 2014
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.
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