Review of Sound: Shhh...Bang...POP...BOOM!

Sound: Shhh…Bang…POP…BOOM!
by Romana Romanyshyn and Andriy Lesiv; illus. by the authors; trans. from Ukrainian by Vitaly Chernetsky
Primary    Handprint/Chronicle    64 pp.    g
10/20    978-1-4521-7978-0    $19.99
e-book ed.  978-1-7972-0271-6    $13.99

With a color scheme featuring bright pink, teal blue, lemon yellow, and pops of orange, this attention-grabbing informational book starts with a bang: a rapid-fire tour of all things sound. Chock-full of whimsical infographics created with digital tools and traditional print-making processes, Romanyshyn and Lesiv’s artfully arranged pages introduce the anatomy of an ear; various musical instruments (even a theremin!); human singing voice types; and the sounds of a human body, a house, a city, nature, and animals. Other spreads describe decibels and hertz (the greater wax moth has the sharpest hearing), recording and playback devices, jobs that involve audio work, and different human languages, including sign language. Then, after a few images depict breakdowns in human communication, there’s a surprising tonal shift. The book’s tour guide — a man toting a phonograph to collect sounds throughout the book — takes a break: “Sometimes, we need to spend time in silence.” An umbrella (handed to him by a hearing-impaired woman) shields him from a torrent of onomatopoeic words raining down in overlapping vertical lines. With a page-turn, the deluge of visual graphics subsides, and a love story unfolds, told mainly through minimalist illustrations surrounded by generous white space. It’s a transcendent ending — a quiet meditation on hearing, listening, silence, communication, and understanding. Appended is a list of sounds “worth listening to,” with websites including an interactive world sound map and a Big Bang simulation.

From the November/December 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Tanya D. Auger

Tanya D. Auger
Tanya D. Auger is a former middle school teacher with a master’s degree in learning and teaching from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

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