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The Sound of Silence
Katrina Goldsaito, Author
Julia Kuo, Illustrator
Little, Brown, Fiction, 2016
Suitable for ages: 4-8
Themes: Sounds, Listening, Silence, City, Tokyo, Multicultural
Opening: “Little Yoshio wiggled with anticipation. Three…Two…One! He threw open the front door.”
“Do you have a favorite sound?” little Yoshio asks. The koto musician answers, “The most beautiful sound is the sound of ma, of silence.”
But Yoshio lives in Tokyo, Japan: a griant, noisy, busy city. He hears shoes squishing through puddles, trains whooshing, cars beeping, and families laughing. A koto plays notes that are twangy and twinkinling; they tickled Yoshio’s ears! Tokyo is like a symphony hall!
Where is silence?
Join Yoshio on his journey through the hustle and bustle of the city to find the most beautiful sound of all.
Why I like The Sound of Silence:
Katrina Goldsaito’s The Sound of Silence will transport readers to another place, where one needs sound in order to appreciate silence. The text is inspirational and very lyrical for both children and adults. The illustrations are rich and lively. This is a beautiful book for the family library.
I love the concept silence presented as “ma” by the koto player, with no further explanation. It can be heard in many different ways. When I attend the philharmonic, I love the moment of total silence that I hear as the last note is played just before the audience breaks into applause. For me that is a “ma” moment.
For Yoshio, he embarks upon a journey to listen more closely for sound. There is too much noise in his school classroom. When recess arrives, he visits a bamboo grove at the edge of the playground, but the wind is blowing and creates a beautiful sound, but it isn’t the silence he’s seeking. Silence seems so illusive, even at night when his family is asleep. There are noises. His journey contineus and he finds it in an unlikely place. No spoilers.
Resources: Make sure you read the author’s afterwaord about the Japanese concept of ma. There are some exercises that Goldsaito’s father taught her as a child to listen to individual sounds around her, that would be fun to use with children. And like Yoshio, children can also discuss list their favorite sounds and sounds that may feel disruptive, like a horn blasting. There are many ways to use this beautiful book.
Katrina Goldsaito’s favorite sound is the sound of bare feet on tatami mats. In Tokyo, she worked as an on-camera TV journalist and producer for NHK-World, and has written for National Geographic, The Christian Sicence Monitor, NPA, and The Japan Times. She lives near Golden Gate Pak with her husband and son, and spends her days eating avocados and working on her first YA novel. You can visit her at katrinagoldsaito.com.
*Reviewed gifted by the author in exchange for a review.
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2023 (1/26/22) is in its 10th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those books into the hands of young readers and educators.
Ten years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues. Read about our Mission & History HERE.
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