Book Review: The Visible Sounds by Yin Jianling, (ill. Yu Rong)

Based on the true story of Chinese dancer Lihua Tai, The Visible Sounds tells the uplifting tale of a young child dealing with the frustration and solitude of hearing loss. Alone in silence, the child’s life is changed forever when a chance touch unlocks a vibrant new world, now blazing with rainbows of visible sounds.

The Visible Sounds brings a message of hope and joy to children living with a disability and is an inspirational reminder that dreams can become reality. 

What I Thought:

It’s unusual for me to review picture books, but I was intrigued by The Visible Sounds. Given Rose Ayling-Ellis’ winning appearance on Strictly this year, now seems the perfect time to challenge the perceptions among hearing people of what deaf people can achieve.

This book is a great way to introduce disability and difference to younger children – and let’s face it, some adults could do with the lesson too – as the text and beautiful illustrations introduce MiLi, a young girl who has been deaf since the age of two.

Although she is frustrated and anxious to suddenly be living in a silent world, as she comes to terms with it, she realises that she can ‘hear’ the world in ways that are not just using her ears – she can feel, see and touch the sounds of the world. This leads her to discover a talent for dance.

The illustrations in The Visible Sounds are used in concert with the text to show the different stages of MiLi’s life – she is initially seen in bright colours, until she loses her hearing and drifts into the washed-out colours of despair. When she realises that she can experience the world in different ways, the colours are back to strong, bright and inspirational. It’s a brilliantly visual way to show MiLi’s story, that will make sense to non-readers.

Throughout the book, the text has a lyrical, poetic quality to it and, ultimately, the book ends on a hopeful note – we can achieve, despite our setbacks in life. A superb message for children, especially with things the way they currently are!

The Visible Sounds is published by UCLan Publishing.

Please note: I was sent a copy of this book for review. All opinions are, as ever, my own.

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