Friday, 22 January 2021

Review of 'I Talk Like A River', written by Jordan Scott and illustrated by Sydney Smith, reviewed by Pippa Goodhart


This is an extraordinary and beautiful picture book which does something I've never seen a picture book do before. It takes us into the world of a child with such a bad stutter that he is unable to say anything when put under pressure. But a simple observation by his lovely Dad changes his perception of himself and of his stutter forever.

This heartbreaking yet hopeful book is written by poet Jordan Scott, who tells in an Afterword how, after a 'bad speech day' at school, his own father took him for a walk by the river, and pointed out how the river water flows like the boy's speech. 'When he pointed to the river, he gave image and language to talk about something so private and terrifying. In doing so, he connected my stuttering to the movements of the natural world ...' And the story text gives us that experience.

'See how the water moved? That's how you speak.'
I look at the water bubbling, churning, whirling, and crashing.

And then we get the spread with a double gate-fold, opening out on either side to place the boy in the sparkling river - 


Every school library should have this book. It's a book particularly well suited to junior school age children, but wonderful for older children and adults too.

Sydney Smith has won awards for his illustrations in other picture books. I suspect that this book will win him more awards. It's utterly beautiful. 

Pippa Goodhart   


Mystica said...

Thank you for a review on a very unusual story.

Pippa Goodhart said...

You're welcome, Mystica!

Penny Dolan said...

What a beautiful book to hear about! Thank you, Pippa.

Also, I believe that newly-elected US President Biden copes with a stammer, so this book is a very well timed suggestion, too.

Anne Booth said...

Thank you for this review. Yesterday I watched the most wonderful interview about this book with both writer and illustrator. It was so beautiful. I can't wait to read this book!

Anne Booth said... In case the original link didn't work.

Pippa Goodhart said...

Yes, Penny, and wonderful young poet Amanda Gorman apparently had a speech impediment too. Amazing people, both of them.

Pippa Goodhart said...

Thank you for that link, Anne. I must click through ....