The Sound of Disappointment

“On a drizzly gray day, a young blind girl sets off on a journey down into the tunnels of the subway.  The trains transport her to impossibly wonderful places she can see only in her mind.  She swims with dolphins, sunbathes on a whale’s back, flies through the air between skyscrapers, and travels to the end of the world.  Spectacularly illustrated by internationally bestselling author Jimmy Liao, this beautiful, evocative book celebrates the power of imagination.  This is a moving, magical n readers won’t soon forget.” 

The Sound of Colors, back cover

Sounds great, right?  Sounds like it would be a wonderful book for a young blind boy like Danny, right?  Not so much. 

I bought The Sound of Colors ~ A Journey of the Imagination for Danny’s birthday.  I anticipated a book about a newly blind youngster describing the colors of her sighted world with the sounds from her unsighted one.  I expected it to be similar to The Black Book of Colors by Menena Cottin which is the best mainstream book for vision impaired kids I’ve ever seen. 

The Sound of Colors arrived in the mail today.  I cracked it open and began to read with excitement, already anticipating sharing it with Danny this evening.  At first I was confused… wondering when the meat of the story would start.  It’s moving very slowly.  Plods, even.  Where are the color descriptions?  The vivid imagery that even a blind boy would be able to relate to? 

Only one page was as I expected.  It was the highlight of the book for me. 

“When at last I walk out of the tunnel I can’t see the light, but I can feel the leaves falling like sunshine all around me.”

Mostly, I found this book to be depressing instead of empowering.  Certainly not suitable for my blind 5-year-old who doesn’t realize he is different from anyone else. 

“Home is the place where everything I’ve lost is waiting patiently for me to find my way back.” 

That’s not so bad, actually.  Sort of poetic.

“The last thing I lost was the light, as if somebody played a joke on me, turned off the switch.  I tried and tried, but I couldn’t find it again.”

Hmm.  A little dark for a children’s book (if you’ll pardon the pun).

“So I went forward, step by step, into the dark.  Now I listen for the sound of the colors I can’t see.  I try to smell the shapes, taste the light and dark.  And I hope to find a friend who will read me a poem while the window fills up with sunset.”

And yet…

“There must be someone who’ll sit beside me, sip tea, tell me her hopes for the future, and listen to mine.  …one thought keeps me going — someone could be waiting for me at the other end.”

OK.  Now it’s getting a bit sad.  And needy.  But wait.  It gets worse.

(Speaking of a butterfly) “She’ll take me to the friend I need to find.  She’ll lead me to the place where all the colors are.  She’ll bring me back to the light that I lost, still glowing here, in my heart.”

So, is it just me?  Gloomy, right?  There is one good thing I can say about The Sound of Colors, the illustrations are absolutely riveting.  They are far more interesting than the story itself.   

All in all, this is not an uplifting book.  Not even an empowering one for people with disabilities.  It’s a sad, depressing book that implies that blindness equals loneliness.  Maybe something important was lost in the Chinese to English translation.  Regardless, I’m sending this book back to 



3 Responses

  1. What a bummer, It does sound so sad. I do love the picture though.

  2. Thanks for the great review, it was very helpful for me to get an idea about it.

  3. but actually it’s not a picture book for children you know. It’s a grow up picture book…

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