Silent Music: A Story of Baghdad

by James Rumford

Ali lives in Baghdad and is passionate about learning to write Arabic. For him the... read more

Ali lives in Baghdad and is passionate about learning to write Arabic. For him the calligraphy is not just about communication but also about the beauty of the characters and what they represent. He likes other things, too, especially soccer, but the letters are what he loves most of all. “Writing a long sentence is like watching a soccer player in slow motion as he kicks the ball across the field, as I leave a trail of dots and loops behind me.” Ali’s hero is Yakut, a famous calligrapher who lived in Baghdad eight hundred years ago. Then, as now, there was a war in Baghdad. And like Yakut, Ali writes to “fill my mind with peace.” Beautifully designed and written, James Rumford’s picture book is grounded in both small details—of Ali’s home and family—and big ideas. Above all is Ali’s knowledge that there are easy words and hard ones, and “peace”— salam —is one of the hard ones to get right. Arabic characters grace the pages of the book, incorporated into illustrations inspired by pictures taken in Iraq by photographers and American service personnel. Honor Book, 2009 Charlotte Zolotow Award (Ages 7–10)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2009

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