About the Holiday
Do you have new books to read? Yeah, me too! Today, why not avoid the crush of shoppers at the mall and settle in with a good book. Sometimes all you want to hear is the crinkle of pages turning and the sound featured in today’s book!
The Sound of Silence
Written by Katrina Goldsaito | Illustrated by Julia Kuo
Early on a rainy morning, little Yoshio opened his door and ventured out. “The sounds of the city swirled all around him—Tokyo was like a symphony hall!” As he made his way through the crowded streets, he listened to his footsteps in the puddles and the rain on his umbrella. Suddenly, above all the other noises, Yoshio heard a Koto player carefully tuning her instrument. The sound was “high then low, squeaky and vibrating—amazing!” When the Koto player began a song, “the notes were twangy and twinkling; they tickled Yoshio’s ears!” Yoshio told the old woman that he had never heard a sound like that. The koto player’s laugh was like the tinkling chimes in his mother’s garden.
Yoshio asked the old woman if she had a favorite sound. Her answer surprised him. “‘The most beautiful sound, is the sound of ma, of silence.” Yoshio ran off to school, wondering where he could hear silence. All day, Yoshio listened for silence, but his classroom was too noisy and even in the bamboo grove near the playground, the wind through the stalks made “takeh-takeh-takeh” and “swish-swish-swish” sounds.
On the way home from school, Yoshio was alert to discover the sound of silence, but cars and buses honked, the trains whooshed by, and the traffic lights beeped. At home, the dinner table was alive with the sounds “of chopsticks and slurping and chewing and swallowing,” and the bathtub rang with the patter of water droplets and swirling eddies.
Maybe nighttime would bring silence, Yoshio thought. He tried to stay awake until everyone else was asleep, “but his eyes got heavy and then heavier, and soon the sound of a distant radio became part of his dreams.” Yoshio woke to the barking of a dog and listened to his sisters calling his name. “Where was silence?” Yoshio hurried to school. He was the first one there, and the gate creaked as he opened it. His shoes shuffled in the hall on the way to his classroom.
When he got there, he sat at his desk and took his favorite book out of his bag. “He loved this story, and as he read, he forgot where he was. Suddenly, in the middle of a page, he heard it.” He listened. “Everything felt still inside him. Peaceful, like the garden after it snowed. Like feather-stuffed futons drying in the sun. Silence had been there all along…. It was between and underneath every sound. And it had been there all along.”
Katrina Goldsaito’s beautiful text hums with descriptions of sound that are both lyrical and tangible, allowing readers to hear the world through Yoshio’s ears. As children join Yoshio in his hunt for silence, they may find themselves becoming more aware of the sounds—and the ma—in their own lives.
The streets of Tokyo come to life in Julia Kuo’s illustrations that combine classic style and modern elements tied together with a fresh color palette. Readers will love lingering over the pages to catch sight of favorite characters from Japanese video games, toys, and books, and those who are familiar with the city will enjoy a bit of armchair traveling as they recognize buildings, businesses, and other landmarks. Yoshio is sweetly earnest as he searches for silence, and children will happily follow his yellow umbrella and red hat from page to page. The first two-page spread of Yoshio throwing open the door from his home rendered in white to the color-drenched city outside is stirring and an apt and surprising imagining of the story’s theme.
The Sound of Silence is an enchanting book that can inspire children to experience life in a new and deeper way and would be a welcome addition to home and classroom bookshelves.
Ages 4 – 8
Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2016 | ISBN 978-0316203371
Discover more about Katrina Goldsaito and her work on her website
To learn more about Julia Kuo, her books, and her art visit her website.
Read a New Book Month Activity
I’m a Bookworm Bookmark
Feeling like wriggling into a new book? Use this I’m a Bookworm Bookmark to keep your place when you finish reading!
- Printable I’m a Bookworm Bookmark template
- Heavy stock paper (optional)
- Print the I”m a Bookworm Bookmark on regular or heavy paper
- Cut along the mouth line to make a slit that can fit over the top of a page to mark it
Picture Book Review