The Sound of Silence by Katrina Goldsaito, illustrated by Julia Kuo (InfoSoup)
Yoshio heads out of his house and into the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. He hears all sorts of things, like splashing puddles and rain on his umbrella. Then he hears the sound of a woman playing a koto and visits with her. He asks her what her favorite sound is and she replies that it is the sound of silence. Yoshio spent the rest of the day looking for silence. But there was always some kind of sound, others talking, the breeze in the bamboo, traffic and trains. He couldn’t find silence anywhere, not in the bath where water dripped or in bed where he could hear a radio playing far away. He went to school early the next day, still seeking silence and then for one moment, he heard it. Even inside he was still. He discovered it was in between all of the other sounds, just waiting for him there.
Goldsaito has written a beautiful contemplative picture book where seeking the sound of silence is a search for finding your own inner place of peace. Even as the book looks towards silence, it celebrates the other sounds of a bustling city, a busy school and a family at home. As the sounds grow quieter, the book slows too allowing readers to see the way towards silence as they move through the book.
Kuo’s illustrations are gorgeous with their fine lines and details. They capture a city with many inhabitants walking together, traffic moving, and plenty of action. They also show the beauty of the bamboo garden, the loving family eating together and then Yoshio eager to find the solution to hearing silence. Readers will hear silence on many of the pages thanks to the beauty of the illustrations and the moment it takes to really look at them.
A very special picture book that will speak to many readers in our busy modern world who are themselves looking for a peaceful break in their day. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from library copy.
Maxi’s Secrets by Lynn Plourde
Timminy is not looking forward to starting a new school, particularly one where his father is Assistant Principal. Now he won’t be able to disguise from his parents how bullied he has been at school due to his small size. But his parents try to make the move more palatable by giving him a puppy, Maxi, who is a huge white furry ball of energy and love. Eventually, they discover that Maxi is deaf and have to figure out how to keep her safe in their woodsy new home. Meanwhile Timminy is busy worrying about school, dodging bullies who put him in lockers. When he meets his neighbor, Abby, she doesn’t put up with his whining about his size. After all, she doesn’t let her blindness slow her down at all. It is up to Timminy to realize that his size doesn’t define him any more than Abby’s or Maxi’s disabilities do. It’s time for them all to stand tall.
Plourde has created one of those dog books. You know, the ones where the dog dies. But at least she admits it right up front, warning readers that Maxi is one to be adored and loved but that she will be gone before the story is done. The book happily is about much more than that. It is about bullying and the ability to keep strong in the face of being different and unique. It is also about everyone being more than they seem on the surface, even those who may appear to be bullies at first.
The writing here is heartfelt and fast. Timminy is a great protagonist and though he can whine at times, it is always justified. The fact that he learns a lot from those around him is to his credit. He is also someone who offers second chances to others and seeks them himself when he does something wrong. This is a book about friendships and allowing people into your lives even if they are different in ways other than hearing and sight and size.
A tearjerker of a book, this is one with a huge heart to go along with the huge white dog. Appropriate for ages 8-12.
Reviewed from ARC received from Nancy Paulsen Books.