November 17, 2017

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Silent Days, Silent Dreams by Allen Say | SLJ Review

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redstarSAY, Allen. Silent Days, Silent Dreams. illus. by Allen Say. 64p. bibliog. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Bks. Oct. 2017. Tr $21.99. ISBN 9780545927611.

Gr 3-7 –In this fascinating longform “imagined” biography about James Castle, author-illustrator Say plays with artistic and literary formats. Castle was born deaf and premature in Idaho, was considered to be autistic and dyslexic, and was abused and bullied for his inability to speak or read. He was discouraged from creating art by his parents and principal, and had his art supplies confiscated and artworks destroyed many times, yet he still created a huge and compelling body of work. The biography is written from the perspective of Castle’s nephew, Bob Beach, and the back matter provides detailed information about the artist and Say’s connection to him. Say’s art, inspired by the many styles of James Castle, vibrates on the page in a variety of media, including matchsticks, shoe polish, liquid laundry bluing, and cardboard, and he even switched hands to imitate Castle. Just as Castle’s art leapt in styles and emotions, Say’s work shows the trials of a beleaguered and prolific artist. VERDICT A phenomenal and profoundly artistic and biographical work.–Lisa Nowlain, Nevada County ­Community Library, CA

This review was published in the School Library Journal September 2017 issue.

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