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Monday, February 6, 2017

The Sound of Silence, written by Katrina Goldsaito and illustrated by Julia Kuo. Little, Brown and Company, Hachette. 2016. $20.49 ages 5 and up

"Suddenly, Yoshio heard
the strangest sound, high
and then low, squeaky and
vibrating - amazing! It was
a koto player carefully
tuning her instrument. Then
the koto player played. The
notes were twangy and
twinkling ; they tickled ... "

How often do we take the time to listen for the silence that surrounds us? In the fast-paced modern family life lived by so many, it seems those times are few and far between, doesn't it? In this lovely and admirable story, we get a chance to feel that silence, and to appreciate it.

Yoshio, a young Japanese boy sets off through Tokyo streets for school. As he goes, we are witness to the constant movement and noise that surrounds him. He makes his way along those busy streets, allowing readers to see the Japan he knows so well, to hear the many sounds that surround him, and to share in his joy in life.

"Yoshio listened to the sound of his boot squishing
and squashing through the puddles, and the tiny
raindrops pattering on his umbrella. The sound
of his giddy giggles made him giggle more."

In the midst of all that noise, he hears a strange new sound as well. It comes from a koto player tuning her instrument. He comments on his love of sounds and asks if she has a favorite one. She says it is ma ... silence. Yohsio is left to wonder where he might find it. He spends the rest of his day listening; but, silence is not to be found.

It isn't until the next day that he finally hears that silence at school, and before anyone else has arrived.

"In that short moment, Yoshio couldn't even
hear the sound of his own breath."

Only then does he understand that silence is always there ... in the in-between moments, when you really listen for it.

Beautifully illustrated to match the author's remarkable storytelling and enhance this exploration of both noise and silence, it already has a place on my 'keepers' shelf!

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