Note to Readers

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Silent Music: A Story of Baghdad

Released March 2008

Reviewed by Deb Fowler

Ismi Ali–My name is Ali.

Ali is a boy who lives in Baghdad with his family and friends. Baghdad is the capital of Iraq and is the largest city in that nation. He loves to play soccer, loves loud music, loves to dance, but most of all he loves to practice calligraphy. Calligraphy in his language are letters that flow from the right to the left. Ali is very passionate about his language and says “I love to make the ink flow–from my pen stopping and starting, gliding and sweeping, leaping, dancing to the silent music in my head.”

As you can see by the calligraphy in this book, the Arabic language is a very beautiful one to write. Just look at his little sister’s name Yasmin. Isn’t that beautiful? Ali says that some of the words are very hard to write and can “turn into tangled knots of ink” and he has to practice them many times over to get them right. Yakut, his hero, was a famous calligrapher and Ali would certainly have a long way to go to match that talent! Calligraphy was one of those things that Ali practiced a lot in 2003 when the bombs came crashing into his city; it was something that made him comfortable and warm inside. If you want to know how to write the word SALĀM (peace) you can learn how in this book.

I loved the graceful flow of this book and the masterful illustrations illuminated the tale. There are enough examples to spark the interest of the reader to want to pick up a pen and at least try to write a few of the words illustrated in the text. This book is a lovely way to introduce children to another language and culture. In the author’s note he discusses the importance of calligraphy in the Muslim world and gives a very brief biographical sketch of Yakut, Ali’s hero.

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