All 3 picture books are absolutely gems, the kind of books you will want to keep on coming back to. At the heart of each story is a message to the reader that they can be anything they want to be, no matter what the circumstances or challenges and with opportunity and support they can overcome these difficulties.
I Talk Like A River by Jordan Scott and Sydney Smith
Highly recommend for 6 to 12 years.
The artwork by Sydney Smith is stunning, who has a real skill at creating powerful and beautiful pictures. This complimented by Jordan Scotts almost lyrical text, so even the story flows like a river. I Talk Like a River gives an eye-opening insight into how it feels to be a child with speech difficulties. So much of this story is told in pictures, that it’s hard to explain its power in word alone. Written from the boys perspective, the boy explains how he struggles to get his mouth to say the right words or sounds, and how as a result he can be misunderstood by his classmates and teacher.
I love how his dad tunes into his needs when he picks him up from school.
“It’s just a bad speech day he.” he says.
“Let’s go somewhere quiet.”
They go to the river which is the boys favourite place. His dad tells him
“See how that water moves?
That’s how you speak.”
The calm by the river and realising he talks just like a river, gives the boy the confidence at the end of the story to tell the class about his favourite place.
The Comet by Joe Todd Stanton
Highly recommend for 3 to 10 years
Another stunning and heartfelt picture book by Joe Todd Staton, Its explores themes of dealing with change and transitions and of communities supporting each other.
A young girl is upset when she has to move with her dad from the countryside to the city when he gets a new job. She misses the wildlife of the countryside, the sounds of the sea and her dad has to work all the time. But, then one night she sees a Comet falling to earth and things begin to change. I love how the girls connection with nature is inter winded with the story and how this special sight in the night sky helps her to begin to see things differently.
“And as I reach the Comet,
Something magical starts to grow
It feels like I am home.”
Slowly things begin to change, and become more hopeful. And then her new neighbours help them to decorate their new home. There is a fantastic double page spread at the back of an inside plan view of each flat in the tower block.
The Visible Sounds by Yin Jianling and Yu Rong, translated by Filip Selucky
Based on the true story of a Chinese dancer, Tai Lihua. The child in the story has been named MiLI, which means grain of rice in Chinese, and carries associations with strength, persistence, and having spirit rather like the character in this inspiring story. The girl looses her hearing at young age, and is thrown into a dark place, where she feels isolated and frustrated. But, then she discovers that if she rests her hands on the side of the bus as it moves along she can FEEL the vibration in her body. Then she sees some smoke coming out of and old car, and she knows it makes a puff sound. She could SEE this sound.
At school she discovers she can hear the beat of a drum through her body and becomes a dancer. A heartfelt story about a girl who over comes challenging circumstances to become a professional dancer, despite being deaf.
In Comparison to the other two stories, the picture for Visible Sounds are not as multi-layered. But, the bright bold colours make them stand out in a different way. Sign language is added into the illustrations, but please note it is not just British sign language.