Silent Days, Silent Dreams
Silent Days, Silent Dreams

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Annotation: Fictionalized biography imagines the life of world-renowned twentieth-century American artist James Castle, who was born deaf, mute, and autistic, and never learned to speak, write, read, or use sign language.
Catalog Number: #149615
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Copyright Date: 2017
Edition Date: 2017
Pages: 63 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-545-92761-7 Perma-Bound: 0-605-99420-X
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-545-92761-1 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-99420-1
Dewey: E
LCCN: 2017017323
Dimensions: 28 cm.
Language: English
Publishers Weekly
Say (The Inker-s Shadow) tells the haunting story of outsider artist James Castle, a deaf and autistic man whose talent was not recognized until late in his life. Narrating in the voice of Castle-s nephew, Say describes how Castle was born in 1899 into an Idaho farm family with no resources to help their son. He never learned to speak or read; when upset, he shrieked uncontrollably. But he found consolation in drawing and made some 15,000 pictures, often with soot and sharpened sticks after teachers confiscated his drawing materials. Many of Castle-s drawings accompany the story-blocky, sometimes surreal human figures and houses-and Say contributes pen-and-ink vignettes, drawings that mimic Castle-s style, and anguished charcoal portraits of the bullying the man endured throughout his life. After living alone in outbuildings on family properties for decades, Castle at last came to the attention of local artists and gained some financial security. Say-s moving portrait of Castle-s work and life (-I think he was happy,- he concludes) pays tribute to a man who was compelled to create despite the torments he underwent. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)

School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 37In this fascinating longform "imagined" biography about James Castle, author-illustrator Say plays with artistic and literary formats. Castle was born deaf and premature in Idaho, was considered to be autistic and dyslexic, and was abused and bullied for his inability to speak or read. He was discouraged from creating art by his parents and principal, and had his art supplies confiscated and artworks destroyed many times, yet he still created a huge and compelling body of work. The biography is written from the perspective of Castle's nephew, Bob Beach, and the back matter provides detailed information about the artist and Say's connection to him. Say's art, inspired by the many styles of James Castle, vibrates on the page in a variety of media, including matchsticks, shoe polish, liquid laundry bluing, and cardboard, and he even switched hands to imitate Castle. Just as Castle's art leapt in styles and emotions, Say's work shows the trials of a beleaguered and prolific artist. VERDICT A phenomenal and profoundly artistic and biographical work.Lisa Nowlain, Nevada County Community Library, CA
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
An imagined biography in words and pictures of the self-taught white artist James Castle. James Castle was born in 1899 on a farm in rural Idaho, "deaf, mute, autistic, and probably dyslexic." Using interviews, written biographical material, and Castle's own drawings as guides, Say, writing in the voice of Robert "Bob" Beach, Castle's nephew, offers a sensitive portrait of a person compelled to draw despite abuse and lack of drawing materials. Considered "ineducable" by the principal of the Idaho School for the Deaf James attended from ages 10 to 15 (he also told James' father not to let him draw), James used burnt matchsticks, soot mixed with his own saliva, and scrap paper to draw in secret. When Beach showed some of Castle's drawings to his art professor, the professor, impressed, arranged an exhibition. More exhibitions followed, and Castle moved into a used trailer—by far the nicest studio he ever had. It's a small but deep triumph that this misunderstood, determined artist became discovered by the art world during his lifetime. "I think he was happy," narrator Bob says of this period, and it's a wistful note that Say's illustrations—some in Castle's own style, some darkly black and white, and some in color—give heartfelt resonance to. With sensitive text and powerful illustrations, Say brings this remarkable, inspiring life to poignant reality. (author's note, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 8-15)
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* James Castle is a relatively unknown artist, but renowned illustrator Say attempts to bring his work to a young audience in this enigmatic, fictionalized picture-book biography. Born deaf and mute in 1899, Castle never learned to read or sign, despite attending a school for the deaf. Not surprisingly, he was the object of cruel taunts and mistreatment, but he created a stunning body of work, comprising surreal drawings, collage, and paper arts constructed from materials he found at his parents' farm. Though none of Castle's original artwork appears in these pages, Say endeavors to re-create his process, using soot, burned matches, and found paper in artwork deeply inspired by Castle's own paintings and drawings. The shadowy, thick-lined images are sometimes scary classroom full of figures with blank faces, a boy in overalls curling into himself in fear t others, such as the view from a high barn window, or a house just for him, capture the deeply observant character of the artist. Though it's difficult to ascertain Say's intended audience for this title, his evocative, unusual illustrations are undeniably stunning and tell a vivid, slightly unsettling story of an artist. It's as if Say, by emulating Castle's methods, has gained unique insight into the artist's perspective and delivers it back to the reader in the medium Castle loved most. Unusual, yet utterly transfixing.
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Word Count: 1,895
Reading Level: 4.6
Interest Level: 3-6
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.6 / points: 0.5 / quiz: 193556 / grade: Lower Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:5.2 / points:3.0 / quiz:Q72525
Lexile: 790L
Guided Reading Level: X

James Castle was born two months premature on September 25, 1899, on a farm in Garden Valley, Idaho. He was deaf, mute, autistic, and probably dyslexic. He didn't walk until he was four; he would never learn to speak, write, read, or use sign language.

Yet, today Castle's artwork hangs in major museums throughout the world.  The Philadelphia Museum of Art opened "James Castle: A Retrospective" in 2008. The 2013 Venice Biennale included eleven works by Castle in the feature exhibition "The Encyclopedic Palace."  And his reputation continues to grow.

Caldecott Medal winner Allen Say, author of the acclaimed memoir <i>Drawing from Memory</i>, takes readers through an imagined look at Castle's childhood, allows them to experience his emergence as an artist despite the overwhelming difficulties he faced, and ultimately reveals the triumphs that he would go on to achieve.

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