Silent Music: A Story of Baghdad Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2018-01-10 
Review Score: 5 out of 5 star From 7 user ratings

" Age group 7-10James RumfordThis book was about a young boy living in Baghdad that loved to do things to take his mind off the fact that there was a war going on. His favorite thing to do above everything was calligraphy. He would practice and practice so that he would be able to be like his secret hero Yakut, a world famous calligrapher. He told stories of Yakut and how he wanted to be just like him. " said.

"This book addresses to some extent, the war in Iraq and looks through a child's eyes at the horror of war. I've been glad my kids could hear about it (books and classmates from Iraq) without having to live it. Some of the stories we've heard from first-hand accounts are so, so sad.

The Silent Music spoken of in the title is the written Arabic language. I had never realized just how beautiful it is. I love how the author discusses the calligraphy and displays it. Loved it! The patterns in the clothing and backgrounds are exquisite. A must read.
" said.

"Response: This is a beautifully illustrated book. The pictures are captivating and the story is beautiful. I like how with the fiction the author ties in several true facts. At the end of the book is an author’s note detailing more facts about calligraphy and Yakut.

Teaching Implication: This would be a great opportunity for students to practice calligraphy. I would research the correct way to write each of their names and make a project out of it. They could each write their names on a piece of construction paper and hang it on the bulletin board.
" said.

"Silent Music is a 2009 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

Audience: This book would be great for grades K-3. The illustrations in this book were absolutely beautiful but I can't help but think that this book would be hard to maintain the attention span of younger readers. It may be a good book to introduce when you are introducing cursive into the curriculum.

Appeal: The appeal for this book would be good if your students are really into writing and learning how to write. The book is also a good one to pull out when you are bringing in diversity to your curriculum. When you are able to bring different cultures and flavors into the classroom it is good to have different books from different children's perspectives.
" said.

Grade Level: K-3 read-aloud

This is a moving story about a child in modern-day Iraq, coping with life in a war-torn country through his love of caligraphy. The author uses a powerful analogy as he describes the ease of writing the word war, relative to the difficult formation of the word peace. The illustrations in this book are intriguing layers of texture and design, with beautiful, caligraphy overlays. The story itself gives a real face to the Iraqi people, especially meaningful as an American today. With students, this book could be used to discuss similarities with children across cultures, and coping methods in times of stress. It might also be an interesting book to read aloud as students first begin working on handwriting or cursive. Students could explore writing on different surfaces and compare letter formation to other images, such as "a soccer player in slow motion as he kicks the ball down the field" just as Ali does in the story. Perhaps Ali's artistic vision of handwriting would be contagious, or at least inspire kids to look at letters through a different lens.
" said.

" كتاب موسيقى الحروف..قصة عن بغداد لمؤلفه الأمريكي جيمس رمفورد يقدم صورة مختلفة عن بغداد وحياة الناس فيها ، خاصة الأطفال وكيف يعيشون أيامهم تحت رعب الحرب ، من خلال حكاية "علي" و هو طفل عراقي يعيش فى بغداد يحب لعب كرة القدم و الرقص و الموسيقي الشعبية الصاخبة ، و فن الخط العربي الذي يحتمي به من مآسي الحرب مستلهما ً مثال لمقاومة الحرب بالفن من الخطاط البغدادي الشهير ياقوت الذى عاصر غزو المغول لبغداد قبل قرون ، "علي" كولد صغير يستعمل الخط العربى كي يخلق عالم جميل يهرب إليه من عنف الحرب وشراستها ، فيصف مشاعره وهو ممسك بالقلم راسما ً الحروف على الورق وكأنه يرقص على أنغام الموسيقي الصامتة داخل رأسه ، وعندما يقع الغزو الامريكي وتبدأ ليالى القصف ينهمك فى الكتابة ليملئ غرفته بصفحات من الخط العربي تبث فى نفسه شعوراً بالسلام المفقود ، ولم يتوقف "علي" عن رسم حروف الخط العربي رغم استمرار الحروب فى بلده .

يقول "علي" أن كتابة جملة طويلة تشبه مشاهدة لاعب كرة قدم بالحركة البطيئة وهو يركل الكرة من الملعب حيث يترك وراءه أثرا ً من النقاط والحلقات ، ويعتبر كتابة بعض الكلمات أسهل من بعضها الآخر فتتشابك الحروف لتُكون أشكالا ً جميلة دون أن يبذل جهد كبير كأسم شقيقته الصغيرة .

لايتوقف "علي"عن رسم الكلمات والحروف رغم استمرار الحروب فى بلده ، إذ يقول "مازلت أكتب كلمات يسيرة وأخري عسيرة ، فكلمة (حرب) تنحدر من قلمي بسهولة عبر الانحناءات الطويلة الحادة ، بينما كلمة (سلام) تدهشه مقاومتها له عندما يكتب التعاريج الصعبة والألف المائلة ، تري كم يلزمني من تدريب حتي تنساب كلمة سلام بحرية من قلمي" .
" said.

"In this book, Ali, from Baghdad, tells of his love of writing. Ali loves the calligraphy part of writing, the artistry of his native Arabic langauge that becomes his "silent music." Simply by sharing his likes and interests, and his challenges in trying to write beautiful words, Ali teaches us about his family, his culture and how he coped with bombs falling on Baghdad by...reaching for his pen. The author/illustrator has created a beautiful book that draws the reader in and also gives numerous examples of Arabic text (which reads right to left) in an easily accessible format. For younger readers growing up during our distressed relationship with Iraq, this text immediately pulls you into Ali's stor--as a child like many other children. The cultural differences are presented in a way that will be attractive and interesting to children and will arouse their curiosity. As we warm to Ali and his love of writing (and soccer), we gently learn of the difficulties he now faces, and how he writes the words "war" and "peace."

Each time I have read through this book, I have found something new. The background illustrations are rich with details that offer a glimpse into life in Iraq. The Arabic text takes center stage, beautifully flowing over, around and amongst the other images. Teachers could also call attention to Ali's interest to an earlier writer who also endured war in Baghdad and make connections to how we all look to friends, adults, ancestors and historical figures as we try to find our place in the world.
" said.

" أن نبين وجها مشرقا لبغداد؛ وللعراق؛ باعتباره مصدرا مهما ومنبعا عظيما لمواهب الخط العربي عبر التاريخ .. رغم القصف وهجوم المغول؛ بقي القلم يكتب ويخط أجمل الحروف وعازفا أعذب الكلمات " said.

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