The Sound of Silence by Katrina Goldsaito; illustrated by Julia Kuo. 2016. Pen, scanned, colored digitally in Photoshop.
Brief summary: Yoshio walks around Tokyo listening to the sounds of the city. The child asks a Koto Player what her favorite sound is and learns about “ma” which is Japanese for silence. He spends the rest of his search seeking ma which he successfully finds.
Comments: There is an afterword with an explanation of ma. There is a list of five Japanese words and meanings used in the book. This would be a great book to go with the five senses study in primary grades. I plan to use this book in the library to ask students when they experienced ma and to share next week if they heard ma that week. This could be used in music classes as well to emphasize when there is silence in a song.
Birdsong: A Story in Pictures by James Sturm; illustrated by James Sturm. 2016. Drawn with pen and brush in India ink and colored digitally
Brief summary: Two bad children are cruel to a turtle and a red bird. As they are chasing the poor little bird up the mountain, a wizard turns them into monkeys. They are caught and put in a circus. The two are released and run into the forest to live where the little red bird talks to them. This is not a happily-ever-after ending.
Comments: Stories without words. Good for predictions unit of study. Great explanation of the Japanese way of telling wordless stories–e-toki and kamishibai. Story with a moral. I plan to read this at the beginning of the year to teach about gaito kamishibi in my stories without words unit. This would be a good book to use at the beginning of the school year when reviewing the procedures and rules of the school to teach students that there are consequences for bad choices.