|Silent Music, by James Rumford, courtesy Amazon|
Written and Illustrated by James Rumford
Roaring Brook Press, 2008
non-fiction, grades K-3
AR Level: 3.8,
Lexile 830L, Level E
Culture, Historical, Art
"My name is Ali. I live in Baghdad. I love playing soccer in the dusty street with my friends. I love loud parent-rattling music. I love dancing. But most of all, I love calligraphy . . ."
Through paint and digital collage, James Rumford brings the flavor of Iran to this story of a young boy named Ali. He is just like any other boy, except he is passionate about his country's tradition of beautiful handwriting. The story compares ordinary things in Ali's life to the calligraphic strokes. The author parallels Ali's experience during a bombing of Baghdad to the experience of the famous calligrapher Yakut during the Siege of Baghdad in 1258. Ali is able to find joy in the midst of fear and hope for the future in keeping his traditions alive. There is one page of back matter about Yakut and information about the country and its writing sprinkled throughout the text.
What I Love:
The book is beautiful, to start. The calligraphy throughout is Rumford's own. His comparisons are lyrical: Ali's little sister's name is a lovely, energetic swish, his grandfather's is tall and stately. Some strokes twirl and fly like a soccer match. Some strokes are as complicated as the busy streets. These comparisons are an inventive way of drawing young readers into the text.
|James Rumford's collage, traditional patterns, and hand-calligraphy|
I was also impressed with the author's ability to take a tiny piece of history and build a book around it. More likely, he wanted to share his love of the Iranian calligraphic art form, then traced a parallel between the war-torn past and present. He sneaks details about calligraphy into the text which might have been dry in the hands of another writer.
|Calligraphy by Sultan Mahmud II|
3. Introduce kids to other Islamic arts like architecture on History For Kids.
4. Read about the real Yakut Ul'Musta-simi from TurkishCulture.org
5. You'll find dozens of other calligraphers, their work, and their biographies on the Journal of Ottoman Calligraphy.
6. For authors studying through ReFoReMo, you can find his thoughts on structuring a biography on his website.
7. Diane Tulloch has a great interview with the author / illustrator on her website, Patient Dreamer.
8. If you enjoyed this book, here are a few more Perfect Picture Books you might enjoy.
|S. N. Taylor's review|
Have you reviewed a Perfect Picture Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!
Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for March 13, 2015, available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.