Sonam and the Silence by Eddie Ayres and Ronak Taher

The story of Sonam who ‘learns that music is like a pomegranate tree. It needs nurturing and love to thrive and give fruit.’ Sonam lives in Afghanistan at the time when the Taliban forbade music. She encounters an elderly musician who gives her a rubab, a musical instrument that he played himself as a child but her brother hides it from her to protect her. One day, though, she will be able to play and sing again. The tactile collage illustrations, by an Iranian-Australian artist, complement and extend the expression of Sonam’s  feelings in the text of this picturebook and both reflect how music is linked to all the senses, not only hearing.

This is not the only recent book in which the rubab plays a significant role. In the novel The Eleventh Trade by Alyssa Hollingsworth (Piccadilly 9781848126893), Sami, a refugee from Afghanistan, has to try and get back the very precious stolen instrument that his grandfather, a famous musician in their home country, plays at the station to raise funds.

Allen & Unwin 9781760634872