The Visible Sounds
Publisher: UCLan Publishing
A two-year-old girl loses her hearing as a result of illness. At first, little MiLi feels frustrated, tearful and cross, surrounded by doctors, clipcharts and sorrowful faces.
Then one day on a bus, she finds herself considering how she can feel the vehicle shake and tremble. She notices the vibrations of a popcorn machine, the angry engine of a lorry straining to get up a hill. MiLi realises that "sound" is not just something you hear – it can be touched, seen and felt within the body. And before long, she is also learning to explore the rhythm of music.
Based loosely on the story of internationally acclaimed dancer Tai Lihua, the book combines a lyrical narrative translated from Chinese with equally striking visuals. The shifting palate evolves from a sombre and largely monochrome backdrop to an exuberant spectrum of colours, reflecting the little girl’s increasing delight in the wealth of ways she can experience the world.
The depiction of deafness is thought-provoking and multi-faceted. MiLi acquires deafness (rather than being born Deaf) and we see society initially treating this as something to attempt to "cure" before we see her claiming her deafness, challenging perceptions and sharing the beauty and power of signs.
Recent public interest in a Deaf actress winning Strictly Come Dancing will bring even more relevance and meaning to this special book with its evocative message that ‘to dance without music is to dance with one’s heart.’