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Silent Music: A Story of Baghdad by James…

Silent Music: A Story of Baghdad (original 2008; edition 2008)

by James Rumford (Author)

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3527158,195 (4.28)3
As bombs and missiles fall on Baghdad in 2003, a young boy uses the art of calligraphy to distance himself from the horror of war.
Title:Silent Music: A Story of Baghdad
Authors:James Rumford (Author)
Info:Roaring Brook Press (2008), Edition: 58046th, 32 pages
Collections:Your library

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Silent Music by James Rumford (2008)


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Silent Music was written and illustrated by James Rumford in mixed media, using pencil and charcoal drawings enchanced on the computer, and much of the author’s own calligraphy. This book was an ALA Notable Children’s Book for 2009 and a 2009 Charlotte Zolotow honor book. It’s a simple story of how young Ali uses calligraphy to distract himself from the bombing of Baghdad in 2003, with a little information on famous calligrapher Yaqut al-Musta'simi who did the same during the Mongol invasion in 1258.

There’s also a message, as Ali says, “It’s funny how easily my pen glides down the long, sweeping hooks of the word HARB—war...how stubbornly it resists me when I make the difficult waves and slanted staff of SALAM—peace...” This is combined with an Escher-like tessellation where birds break out of the interlocking geometric pattern and fly away.

I LOVED the illustrations in this book! From the copyright page, they are “inspired by the many photos posted on the Web by photographers and American service personnel in Iraq.” They are collages of jewel-tone floral and geometric designs that echo Moorish tile designs, as well as the inclusion of silhouettes and Iraqi stamps, money and postcards, set on desert-colored backgrounds. Calligraphy Arabic words, translated in places (and not in others), are sometimes part of the background or clothing. Ali and his family are portrayed lovingly (I loved the picture of Ali’s father shaving). This is a gorgeous book – too bad it was not recognized by the Caldecott committee. ( )
1 vote rdg301library | Oct 2, 2019 |
In my opinion, this is an outstanding book. I say that for many reasons. The first reason is that this book educates readers on a certain culture that is not discussed often. The culture that is discussed so greatly is the Islamic culture. The story states facts about the culture that the readers might not know. For instance, in the story it states," But most of all, I love calligraphy-writing the letters in my language and making them go right to left across the page.". This interested me because it gave me insight that the Islamic cultures writes right to left. Also, another reason I enjoyed this book is because each page has a very cultural and colorful illustration. The book itself is bright and full of pleasing things to look at. As a reader, you can see the words the main character (Ali) is writing. The book even translates the words for the reader so they can try and write in Arabic as well. Finally, I enjoyed that the book was written in the first person point of view. In the story, there is a war going on and Ali uses his writing to help him get through the idea of his hometown being destroyed. It is very interesting to see how a young boy like Ali reacted in that moment of fear while being caught in a war. I believe the main idea behind this story is even when things get chaotic, there is always something you can do to calm yourself down and find peace. ( )
  mdecke7 | Sep 4, 2019 |
I have long loved the writing technique of calligraphy, whether Chinese or Arabic. I prefer Arabic due to the other parts of the architectural/cultural/religious importance of it and its beauty in Islamic and Middle Eastern cultures. A beautiful story that integrates several mediums, meanings, and memories. ( )
  EMiMIB | Aug 7, 2019 |
A young boy finds comfort in the ancient art of Arabic calligraphy as bombs and missiles fall around the city of Baghdad during the Iraq War. Seeking comfort in old scripts and emulating famous scribes like Yukut al-Musta'simi, Ali is able to channel his fear into art. ( )
  NDeBlieux | Feb 5, 2019 |
I must say I was a little disappointed after I was finished with this book. The illustrations, however, are amazing. The patterns and contrasts of all the colors helped bring the Arabic culture to life. I enjoyed reading this line, "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." I also enjoy practicing calligraphy when I get the chance to. I wished the author focused more on the war outside of the boy's house. I thought it was very clever that he compared how easy it was the draw the word "war" to how stubborn his pen resisted to make the difficult waves and slants of the word "peace" and how much he had to practice until the word flowed freely. Peace is harder to achieve than war, but we all must practice every single day to have peace within ourselves so we can create peace throughout the universe. ( )
  mskathyphan | Oct 1, 2018 |
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For Dodie Warren and Tuesday's Class
and for all those who love the art
of making beautiful letters.
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My name is Ali.
I live in Baghdad.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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As bombs and missiles fall on Baghdad in 2003, a young boy uses the art of calligraphy to distance himself from the horror of war.

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