The Visible Sounds
Yin Jianling and Yu Rong (translated by Filip Selucky)
This is the powerfully affecting picture book, based on the true story of Chinese dancer Lihua Tai. It tells of MiLi, who as a little girl of two, suffers an illness and loses her hearing as a result. Initially frustrated, anxious, and alone in her world of silence, MiLi uses tears to express how she feels. Doctors are unable to cure her but then one day MiLi realises that although she’s unable to hear sounds, she is able to perceive them in other ways: sound can be felt within, touched, and seen through understanding and interpreting vibrations and movements in the world.
The author expresses the child’s realisation through a plethora of sensory musical phrases: ‘Sounds are waves when fish pass through water, like the lightest of kisses.’ … ‘Sound is the bright sunshine flowing into one’s blood, beaming with rays.’ … ‘Language is a river, flowing and flooding into MiLi’s body.’ … ‘The beautiful music jiggles in her blood. It doesn’t have a sound, but it shines with colours and emotions …’
Perfectly complementing the beauty of the text are Yu Rong’s illustrations with their synthesis of striking graphic style, detail and blending of colours and greyness.
This is a book, that with themes of aiming high and being our very best selves,
while offering a message of hope to differently abled youngsters, surely speaks to us all. It concludes with a note on sign language and a page about Tai Lihua.
A must have for schools, and for family collections.