SILENT MUSIC by James Rumford


A Story of Baghdad
by & illustrated by
Age Range: 6 - 10
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A boy’s ingenuous voice introduces American readers to the beauty and discipline of Arabic calligraphy in this mood piece set in Baghdad. Ali directly addresses readers, explaining how much he loves playing soccer and listening to loud music, and how he loves calligraphy even more: “my pen stopping and starting, gliding and sweeping, leaping dancing to the silent music in my head.” His hero is Yakut, a 13th-century calligrapher who took solace in his art amidst the Mongol invasion. Like Yakut, Ali finds comfort in practicing his letters during the turmoil that has reigned in Baghdad since 2003. Rumford’s sense of design is one of the keenest in the field; he incorporates patterned papers, collage elements and, over and over, the Arabic words themselves in his dusty, desert-colored spreads. The quiet text doesn’t dwell on politics or conflict, simply on one boy’s desire to find peace in his own life and how he uses calligraphy as a vehicle. If it’s a little short on story and none too subtle, it is nevertheless a lovely offering that provides a glimpse into a culture we need to understand. (author’s note) (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: March 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-59643-276-5
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2008


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