Silent Music: A Story of Baghdad Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2018-12-14 
Review Score: 5 out of 5 star From 7 user ratings

"Silent Music: A Story of Baghdad by James Rumford
Cara W., Spring 2015

Contemporary Realistic Fiction Picture Book

This book follows the story of a boy named Ali. Ali loves things that are typical to the common young boy. He likes sports and playing with friends. What makes Ali different is that he likes caligraphy. And when the bombs start hitting his hometown, Ali turns to the caligraphy to take him into a place where he feels safe.

This book made me kind of sad. We always talk about how war is good but we never listen to the children's take on the situation. I think this book is a great way for children to connect to other cultures, especially the one their mom or dad may be immersed in. I felt this book was beautifully illustrated thanks to the caligraphy being immersed into the pages. I recommend this book, but with caution since war is a main topic and some families may feel strongly one way or the other about it.
" said.

"Summary: Ali is a young boy living in Baghdad during the war. He loves to play soccer, but he also finds peace through practicing his calligraphy.

Art: The artwork beautifully evokes Iraqi culture, employing rich, warm colors and plenty of geometric designs woven into the background and occasionally characters’ clothing. Calligraphy is also prominently featured throughout.

Review: Although the book has a few non sequiturs, changing abruptly from discussing Ali’s love of soccer to his love of calligraphy, the story is beautiful, demonstrating how Ali using calligraphy and his dedication in practicing it to find a bit of good in his war-torn world. Ali also compares himself to the famous calligraphy Yakut, who similarly found escape in beautiful writing. The book has no plot ending, instead leading abruptly to a detailed author’s note about calligraphy, but this is excusable in the sense that Ali is still experiencing a war without an ending.
" said.

""WHEN BOMBS BEGIN TO FALL, Ali drowns out the sould of war with a pen. Like other children living in Baghdad, Ali loves soccer, music and dancing, but most of all, he loves the ancient art of calligraphy. When bombs begin to fall on his city, Ali turns to his pen, writing sweeping and gliding words to the silent music that drowns out the war all around him. Gorgeously illustrated with collage, pencil and charcoal drawings and, of course, exquisite calligraphy, this timely and yet universal story celebrates art and history but also offers young children a way to understand all they see and hear on the news."

I will use this book when we talk about cultures, letters, and even when we talk about September 11th. Many people have chosen a path of racism when talking about 9/11. I will show that the innocent are just as we are in America. They play, learn, and have fear just like us. This book will do wonders in a classroom and I'm glad I read it.
" said.

"Silent Music by James Rumford tells the story of Ali who lives in Baghdad, loves loud music and soccer. When the bombings get too scary, he turns to the art of calligraphy, the "silent music" for comfort. His art is inspired by the words of master calligrapher Yakat who lived and worked 800 years ago.

Accompanying the text are intricate illustrations that weave together Ali's calligraphy with pictures from his life and that of Yakat's. It's done in a style evocative of Arabic mosaics. They appear to be multimedia collages but were apparently done in pencil and finished on the computer.

Although it's a picture book, it would best be suited for upper elementary grades. Besides the history and language lessons of Arabic script, the book covers the invasion and bombing of Baghdad. The book could be used in tandem with a social studies or history unit.

Before using the book in class, read the Blogs Burt Lit post. It has an in depth analysis of the book in terms of language, themes, and historical context.
" said.

Silent Music: A Story of Baghdad, tells the story of Ali, a boy that is much like other boys in his city. He likes to play soccer in the streets, listen to music and dance, but there is one thing that sets Ali apart from the other kids, he enjoys the art of calligraphy. Ali gets lost in his art of writing calligraphy, and uses it as a form of escape. Calligraphy is his silent music that drowns out the war going on outside his door. This story brings together many different elements, connecting cultures, as well as connecting the past to the present. The book is filled with lively images of Ali and his family, as well as pictures and diagrams that give the reader a better idea of his culture. The background images were filled with example of Arabic text and give the reader a better understanding of their writing system. For many students this type of text is completely new and different. The letters used in Arabic are different than what we see here in the English language. Also, they write from right to left, where as we write from left to right. I really enjoyed the fact that there were so many little cultural details given throughout the story. There were images of different aspects of their culture such as, soccer, their money, different words.

This book would be great for K-3 grade readers. It is interesting and engaging enough to keep their attention, and the illustrations were insightful and provided a lot of extra information that wasn’t detailed in the text. This would be a good book to look at if you were going into a unit on cursive or calligraphy. It gives students a better understanding of different styles of writing.

Rumford, J. (2008). Silent music: A story of Baghdad. New York: Roaring Brook Press.
" said.

""Silent Music" tells a story of a young boy who prefers to work on perfecting his calligraphy over playing soccer. Although he loves soccer, he compares writing calligraphy to playing soccer, and the "dance" the players do on the field is like writing calligraphy. This story is simple to read and has some really good information about it regarding calligraphy and Baghdad. Those features would make this story a great book to use in a history lesson. I would definitely recommend this short children's book. " said.

" Teaches kids about coping with war and practicing to become better " said.

"Literature Requirement: Picture book for older readers
Number of pages: 32
Grade level: 1-5
Age level: 6-10
Genre: Fiction
Copyright: 2008 James Rumford
Book Format: Hardcover/picture book

Ali lives in Baghdad and he enjoys soccer, music and dancing. However, more than anything he loves calligraphy. He practices his calligraphy every single day all day long. He practices writing on everything that he can. Some words are harder than others to write but he does not give up. Like the great calligrapher Yakut, calligraphy helps him find peace and comfort during times of destruction, sadness and war.
This book was beautiful. The writing was incredibly descriptive and allows the reader to truly understand how Ali feels when he writes in calligraphy. The details and designs in the book were almost overwhelming but they were also gorgeous. Most of all, this book was sobering. I did not expect the war to be mentioned. Ali mentions how "one frightening night in the year 2003, as bombs and missiles fell on my city, and death and destruction once again filled the streets, I, like Yakut, wrote." Ali goes on to say how the word war (Harb) is easier to write, while peace (Salam) is harder. I thought this spoke volumes. I would definitely recommend this book. It gives great insight into Islamic culture and what it feels like to live in a war zone.
" said.

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