With the help of my local librarian I managed to track down a couple more of my good friend Jim Rumford’s children’s books.
Silent Music … A story of Baghdad….. by James Rumford for ages 4 – 8 yrs
I was surprised to learn this was not about music, nor was it centered on the ravages of war, but instead about a young boy and the power of his pen. Apart from playing soccer and loud music like any typical boy of his age, Ali also loves calligraphy, inspired by Yakat a master Calligapher of the Arabic Language from 800 years earlier. When Baghdad was rained on by bombs in 2003, Jim wanted children to learn something positive about a country he had come to know. Through a background of desert coloured patterns, subtle images of warfare illustrations done in pencil and charcoal and then computer enhanced, he shares a little of himself through Ali.
Jim and Ali’s love of Arabic calligraphy is evident in the colourful descriptions and the Arabic words themselves give way to lyrical text.
I was interested in this story as it reminded me of my love of shadow writing and the small amount of hyroglific writing that I used to do as a child with my school work. (something I had inherited from my Mother). Although there is text boxes and snippets of Alis writing throughout, it is near the end of the book, that a two page spread of this sweeping Arabic writing made to look like sheets of music that you understand the words…..”, dancing to the silent music.”
This his first book for Roaring Brook Press was named an ALA Notable Book, an NCSS Notable Book in the Field of Social Studies, a 2009 Jane Addams honour Book and a 2009 Charlotte Zolotow Honour Book.
Tiger and Turtle … by James Rumford for ages 4 – 8 years
This was a lovely lighter side to James Rumford’s books and I thought of one of my Hub friend’s, Joanna, when I requested the book from my library. This unlikely pair fight over a flower and while a tiger’s claws cannot harm the turtle’s shell anymore than the turtle cannot outrun a tiger, we follow their argument through the bright colourfully illustrated pages and learn an important message. In the front of this book we are privileged as Jim shares with us how he came by the inspiration for this story in Old Kabul, Afghanistan.
It is the chance meeting in the street, a sighting out a bus window, or overhearing a conversation in a crowded café, maybe visiting a new town, village or country which sparks the imagination and stories are born.
Lovely reviews Diane. I was particularly intrigued with Rumford’s book “Silent Music” — the title captivaed me. The picture made me wonder if it was about a child who had found a way to express himself through art — but I now know it’s about the ancient form of calligraphy. Sounds like a beautiful story. I was happy Rumfsford wanted to tell a story about a child embracing his heritage in Iraq, and not focusing on war. It helps children see that kids are kids, no matter where they live, and breaks down barriers. The same goes for the “The Tiger and Turtle.” I enjoy his work.
Thankyou Patricia, yes the title “Silent Music” captivated me too. Like you, I loved how he focused on the childs view, and kids are just that, kids. His work is very interesting.
Thanks, once again, Diane. I also liked what Patricia said. I think that what Ali in my book found was that by doing art he could bring peace to himself, even if the world around him was falling apart. Art (drawing, calligraphy, music, writing) has that power. It is intense. It restores. It soothes. Aloha, James Rumford P.S. Diane, you might also be interested in my book about hieroglyphic writing, Seeker of Knowledge. More on that at jamesrumford.com.
Thankyou Jim. I really loved “Silent Music” and understand well how soothing drawing or writing along with music can be. I used to spend hours on my homework books shadow writing all the headings, making them colourful and rubbing out and redoing them in hieroglypic (although not very good, I might add). My Mum used to do that to her books also and was a very good drawer in her day. I will certainly look up “Seeker of knowledge”, thankyou for that and for your comment.
Thanks for finding two more of Jim’s books for us, Diane. I am imagining that Tiger and Turtle overcome some stark differences towards another unusual animal friendship? The cover artwork suggests to me that the Illustrations are more Asian than Western?
I also love the cover on Silent Music as I find the juxtaposition of the football and calligraphy pens wonderful. It’s great to see a picture book expressing the importance of all art forms for children, for creative expression but also for the peace it can bring.
Thankyou Joanna, In Tiger and Turtle, it is not so much their differences but being tollerant of one another, when reading this, I can see the older of my two brothers and I fighting over the silliest of things (which happened alot growing up). Now we are best of mates. One realises at some stage how silly we were, and that love and acceptance prevails. Jim’s artwork is indeed spectacular in all his books. He manages to weave facts, the present day, and something intriguing into all his artwork. One has to look and look again to really take it all in. Yes his artwork has the feel of asian Joanna, maybe he can answer that for us.