James Rumford

Authors Pavilion
Saturday May 5, 10:00 am
Featured in a dialogue panel with Maya Soetoro-Ng and Sue Cowing

Title of latest book: Rain School; Tiger and Turtle; Max and the Dumb Flower Picture; Chee-Lin, a Giraffe’s Journey; Silent Music

Genre: Children’s fiction
Silent Music
:
Roaring Brook Press; March 18, 2008
Hardback; $17.99; 32 pages; illustrated

The book: When bombs begin to fall, Ali drowns out the sound of war with a pen.

Like other children living in Baghdad, Ali loves soccer, music and dancing, but most of all, he loves the ancient art of calligraphy. When bombs begin to fall on his city, Ali turns to his pen, writing sweeping and gliding words to the silent music that drowns out the war all around him. Gorgeously illustrated with collage, pencil and charcoal drawings and, of course, exquisite calligraphy, this timely and yet universal story celebrates art and history but also offers young children a way to understand all they see and hear on the news.

Reviews:

“I started as though I was going to explain what life was like for him in Baghdad,” the Manoa artist and author said. But what makes “Silent Music” compelling is that Rumford does not try to explain. Instead, he shows us, Ali is the universal child all kids can relate to. … “Everybody has something that they find solace in. So for (Ali) it was this, the same as the story of Yakut,” Rumford said. “He created beauty. He shut out the horror. In this world, something has to trump war. Something has to be bigger than war.”

The Honolulu Advertiser

Silent Music by James Rumford is an incredible, beautiful, inspiring picture book that pays homage to art, to language, and to Middle Eastern culture, while also giving a nod to the current war in Iraq and the hope for peace in the future. … Rumford brings so much to so few words and his gorgeous illustrations. The text is so simple, but it gives rise to so many ideas and feelings about art, music, dancing, hard work, history, tradition, culture, war, peace, family, and beauty. It was a joy to read.

Shen’s Books

He has been called a Renaissance Man, and I wholly agree. Who else makes his own paper and handmade books, teaches himself Egyptian hieroglyphics, and beautifully enhances his illustrations with Arabic and Chinese calligraphy? His breathtaking watercolors, masterful pen-and-ink drawings, and innovative mixed media collages reveal his versatility as an artist who truly feels that the words (and how they are drawn) are just as important as the pictures.

When you open a James Rumford book, you know right away that it has been meticulously researched, inspired by a genuine passion for the subject matter, and designed to give the reader an authentic visual experience. His words are those of a seasoned world traveler, a keen observer both learned and compassionate. Jim’s books ask young readers to stretch their thinking and broaden their horizons. “Come with me,” he seems to say, “the world is a big and marvelous place.”

Each is different and striking in its own way. Whether you travel to 14th century Morroco with Ibn Mattuta, or fight heroic battles with Beowulf in Anglo Saxon England, you could not ask for a better storyteller to take you there.

Jama Rattigan, children’s book author

Art sings on the pages of this visual celebration of Arabic calligraphy as Rumford’s (Sequoyah) collages of floral and geometric designs and flowing lines deftly echo Arabic language and patterns.

Publishers Weekly – Starred Review

Rumford’s sense of design is one of the keenest in the field; he incorporates patterned papers, collage elements and, over and over, the Arabic words themselves in his dusty, desert-colored spreads. The quiet text doesn’t dwell on politics or conflict, simply on one boy’s desire to find peace in his own life and how he uses calligraphy as a vehicle….

Kirkus Reviews

James Rumford combines his life-long love of languages, art, calligraphy and alphabets in compelling picture books that carry young readers to faraway places and long-ago times. A Peace Corps volunteer in both Chad and Afghanistan, he also taught in Rwanda and has lived for many years in Hawaii. Rumford began writing and illustrating children’s books in 1996 and founded Manoa Press in 1986. He has since published many limited-edition handmade books. His newest book, Rain School, was inspired by an experience from the time he and his wife were teaching in Chad. Rumford received the Jane Addams Peace Honor Book Award for Sequoyah in 2005 and Silent Music in 2009; the Peace Corps Writers Award for Best Children’s Writing for Beowulf in 2008 and for Silent Music in 2009; the Sibert Honor Award in 2005 for Sequoyah; the Charlotte Zolotow Honor Book Award in 2004 for Calabash Cat, and for Silent Music in 2009; the Gold Award for Calabash Cat in 2004, and for Max and the Dumb Flower Picture in 2009; the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Award for Rain School in 2010; the Senior Cades Award in 2002; the Middle East Outreach Council 2001 Book Award for the best picture book for children and young adults for Traveling Man; and the Bookbuilders Award in 2001 for Seeker of Knowledge.

Visit James Rumford’s website

Children giving their opinions about Rain School

Silent Music read aloud, with images of the illustrations

Rumford’s other works:

* = handmade book

Introduction to Chadian Arabic, James Rumford and Carol Rumford. Peace Corps: Ndjamena, Chad. 1974

Ikinyarwanda, written and illustrated by James Rumford. Département d’Anglais, Université Nationale du Rwanda: Butare, Rwanda. 1980

Eemvoora, a novel. Mānoa Press, Honolulu. *1988 

Pine and Flower, being a translation of a Ming Dynasty recipe for dying paper by ? Gao Lian, translated and illustrated by James Rumford. Mānoa Press: Honolulu. *1988 

Looking for a Sunny Place to Warm My Back: on the quality of paper, by Chen You, translated by James Rumford with an introduction. Mānoa Press, Honolulu. *1988

The Summer My Son Was Seven Going on Eight, written and illustrated by James Rumford. Mānoa Press, Honolulu. *1990

Out of the Mountains, being an excerpt from his book [1822] entitled A Thorough Inspection of the Frontier Defenses of Three Provinces, by Yan Ruyi, translated by James Rumford with an introduction. Mānoa Press, Honolulu. *1991

Ka Wai a Kāne. Manoa Press, Honolulu. *1992

A Short Elementary Grammar of the Owhihe Language Attributed to Henry Obookiah. Mānoa Press, Honolulu. *1993 

The Hawaiian Language, being part  of the knowledge gathered by the missionaries concerning the language, as copied in the year 1823 by Mercy partridge Whitney, illustrated by James Rumford. Mānoa Press: Honolulu. *1993 

Chu Shu, an essay on paper, observation made by Wang Zongmu at the Imperial Paper Mill at Jade Mountain, illustrated by James Rumford. Mānoa Press: Honolulu. *1993 

Five Photogravures of Henan, photographs by Carol Rumford, poems by James Rumford. Mānoa Press: Honolulu. *1994 

E o mai oe i kou inoa la. Mānoa Press: Honolulu. *1994

Ninety-four Proverbial Expressions and Select Sentences, by Samuel Whitney with illustrations and commentary by James Rumford. Mission Houses Museum and Mānoa Press: Honolulu. *1995

The Cloudmakers, written and illustrated by James Rumford. Houghton Mifflin: Boston. 1996

Wu Wei-yun, Cloudmaker; a translation of a page from the T’ang Ch’i Shou, strange stories from the T’ang Dynasty by Lin Chien-min (James Rumford). Manoa Press: Honolulu. *1996

The Island-below-the-Star, written and illustrated by James Rumford. Houghton Mifflin: Boston. 1998 

Ka ‘Āina-ma-lalo-o-ka-Hōkū, na James Rumford i kēkau i ka ‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i. Houghton Mifflin: Boston. 1998 

When Silver Needles Swam, the story of tutu’s quilt / Ka Ihe o Tūtū, written in English and Hawaiian and illustrated by James Rumford. Mānoa Press, Honolulu. 1998

Ke Kanaka Molimoli or the Tattooed Man, written and illustrated by Kahua Kealeauakea (James Rumford). Mānoa Press, Honolulu. *1999

Seeker of Knowledge, the man who deciphered Egyptian hieroglyphs, written and illustrated by James Rumford. Houghton Mifflin: Boston. 2000

The Whalebone Articles, written and illustrated by Anthony Smallfield (James Rumford). Mānoa Press: Honolulu. *2000

Traveling Man, the journey of Ibn Battuta, 1325-1354, written and illustrated by James Rumford.  Houghton Mifflin: Boston. 2001

Kahalaopuna, the beauty of Mānoa, written and illustrated by James Rumford. Mānoa Press: Honolulu. 2001

Kahalaopuna, ka u‘i o Manoa, na James Rumford i ha‘i hou a pena ki‘i. Mānoa Press: Honolulu. 2001

Champollion, l’homme qui déchiffra les hiéroglyphes égyptiens, écrit en français et illustré par James Rumford. Archimède, L’Ecole des Loisirs: Paris. 2002

There’s a Monster in the Alphabet, written and illustrated by James Rumford. Houghton Mifflin: Boston. 2002

“Louis Braille, opening the doors of knowledge,” written and illustrated by James Rumford.  Ask, vol. 1, no. 4: Chicago. 2002

Nine Animals and the Well, written and illustrated by James Rumford. Houghton Mifflin: Boston. 2003

Calabash Cat and His Amazing Journey, written and illustrated by James Rumford. Houghton Mifflin: Boston. 2003

“Louis Pasteur: bold steps,” written and illustrated by James Rumford. Ask, vol. 3, no. 1: Chicago. 2004

Dog-of-the-Sea-Waves, written in English and Hawaiian and illustrated by James Rumford. Houghton Mifflin: Boston. 2004 

Sequoyah, the Cherokee Man Who Gave his People Writing, written and illustrated by James Rumford, and translated into Cherokee by Anna Sixkiller Huckaby. Houghton Mifflin: Boston. 2004 

“The Gift from the Past” written and illustrated by James Rumford. Ask, vol. 3, no. 7: Chicago. 2004

A Chuva da Manga, escrito em português e ilustrado por J. Rumford. BrinqueBook: Sao Paulo, Brasil. 2005

Beowulf, A Retelling, written and illustrated by James Rumford. Houghton Mifflin, Boston. 2007

Don’t Touch My Hat! written and illustrated by James Rumford. Knopf, New York. 2007

Silent Music, A Story of Baghdad, written and illustrated by James Rumford. Roaring Brook Press, New York. 2008

Chee-Lin, A Giraffe’s Journey, written and illustrated by James Rumford. Houghton Mifflin, Boston. 2008

Max and the Dumb Flower Picture, written by Martha Alexander with James Rumford. Charlesbridge, Boston. 2009

Tiger and Turtle, written and illustrated by James Rumford. Roaring Brook Press, New York. 2009

Rain School, written and illustrated by James Rumford. Houghton Mifflin, Boston. 2010

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