Tuesday, January 2, 2018

SILENT DAYS, SILENT DREAMS by Allen Say.  New York: Arthur Levine Books, 2017.  64p.  ISBN 978-0545-927611 hc. $21.99      Gr. 2-4     J 921 or  J 709

In a tribute to American artist, James Castle, the author unfolds the story of a deaf child who could only communicate by screaming in displeasure or by drawing for comfort.  Unable to communicate with words or signs, Jimmy was isolated from his family.  When his sister, Nellie, lost her hearing after a bout with measles, both children were sent to  the Idaho School for the Deaf and Blind for a proper education.  Nellie did well, but Jimmy once again failed to learn the alphabet, prompting the headmaster to remove all his art supplies.  He was declared "uneducable" at fifteen and sent home to his attic space, where he continued to draw by using a mixture of soot and spit as ink.  Thanks to a nephew who studied art in college, James Castle's drawings were finally discovered by an art professor in Portland, Oregon and then by the director of the Boise Gallery of Art in Idaho.  He continued to make his distinctive art until his death in 1977.  An amazing amount of research went into the writing and drawing of this biography.  Don't miss the Author's Note at the back of the book.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

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