Cover image for The silence in the mountains
The silence in the mountains
Rosenberg, Liz.
Personal Author:
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Orchard Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 29 cm
When his family leaves their war-torn country to come to live in America, a young boy has trouble adjusting, until his grandfather helps him find what he had missed most.
Added Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

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When his family leaves their war-torn country to come to live in America, a young boy has trouble adjusting, until his grandfather helps him find what he had missed most.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 6^-8. When the threat of war (in an unnamed country, but Rosenberg dedicates the book in part to the people of Lebanon) drives young Iskander and his family from their hillside home to a farm in America, his grandfather eases his homesickness by taking him into the woods and sitting with him until he finds a silence like the beloved mountain silence he left behind. Except for one fiery spread, and another showing Iskander standing on an apartment balcony looking down to a busy American street, Soentpiet portrays a prosperous-looking family moving without much difficulty from one peaceful, sunny, bucolic setting to another; consequently, the war and the trauma of dislocation seem abstract, less immediate than the sadness on Iskander's downcast face. This makes a less emotionally intense story than Florence Parry Heide's Sami and the Time of the Troubles (1992), with its heartrending portrayal of children living in the very midst of destruction, but Iskander's feelings are certainly valid--and shared by refugees from violence the world over. --John Peters

Publisher's Weekly Review

This portentous picture book about a child exiled by war gets tripped up by its pacing. While the book's opening sounds like a fairy tale ("Once there was a boy named Iskander who lived in a land so sweet, so beautiful, some people called it paradise"), with the turn of a page ("Then war broke out"), the peaceful family picnic scene is abruptly transformed into barricade explosions and street fighting, and the next spread shows Iskander and his family packing up to leave their farm. The balance of the book takes place in America, where everyone tries to console the homesick boy, but only his understanding grandfather knows that the peaceful woods alone can comfort Iskander. More than the text, it is Soentpiet's (More Than Anything Else) portraits of lined faces and the sunlit countryside that lend the book its emotional appeal. Unfortunately, both Rosenberg's (Monster Mama) text and the artwork muddy the title metaphor. Although the reader is told that Iskander's initial paradise was "changed" as "the fighting went on," the family departs from a peaceful farm where Iskander can still hear "the silence high up in the mountains." Iskander's desire for pre-war "silence" in his own war-torn country seems too subtle for the grasp of most young readers who may wonder why he is not happy with his peaceful new land, or what the silence in the mountains represents. Ages 5-9. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 1-4-Watercolors full of vivid reds, blues, and yellows flow across the pages of this book about a boy whose family leaves their beautiful mountain home when war erupts. Coming to America, they eventually settle on a prosperous farm where everyone adapts except for Iskander, who misses the silence of the mountains. Though all of the adults try to help him adjust, only his grandfather understands the nature of his homesickness and is able to show him what this new land has to offer. Yet, Iskander's story lacks intensity. Readers know only what he is feeling, and in the illustrations, the rest of the family radiates happiness and contentment even in the worst of times. While the paintings mirror the boy's limited understanding of the situation, the happy faces bring a sense of unreality to the story. In addition, the resolution of Iskander's sadness is subtle and not entirely convincing. What does lend reality to the story is Soentpiet's depiction of the characters, who seem to be real people. Their homeland is revealed only when one notices that the book is dedicated in part to the people of Lebanon. By leaving Iskander's native land unstated, the author has emphasized the universal nature of a child's homesickness for a life and a place left behind.-Barbara Scotto, Michael Driscoll School, Brookline, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.