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Silent Music: A Story of Bagdhad

by James Rumford

Published by A Neal Porter Book / Roaring Brook Press, 2008
32 pages
ISBN: 978-1-59643-276-5

Ages 7-9

Ali lives in Bagdhad and is passionate about learning to write Arabic. For him the calligraphy is not just about communication but also 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 Bagdhad eight hundred years ago. Then, as now, there was a war in Baghdad. And like Yakut, Ali writes to “fill my mind with peace.” A beautifully designed and written picture book from James Rumford is grounded in both small details—of Ali’s home and family—and big ideas, above all, 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 the book, incorporated into illustrations inspired by pictures taken in Iraq by photographers and American service personnel. (MS) ©2008 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

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