Jordan Scott has written a stunning book that is primarily for children that are struggling to talk, with a speech impediment or stutter. Adding a layer of beauty to this unique condition, with the river metaphor, Scott and Sydney Smith have culminated a stunning title that aims to remove the barriers and pull any stigma that sits with speech impediments.
Jordan Scott is a poet whose work includes Silt, Blert, Decomp and Night & Ox. Blert, which explores the poetics of stuttering, is the subject of a National Film Board of Canada project: Flub and Utter: a Poetic Memoir of the Mouth. Scott was the recipient of the Latner Writers’ Trust Poetry Prize for his contributions to Canadian poetry. I Talk Like a River is his first book for children. Jordan Scott lives on Vancouver Island, Canada, with his wife and two sons. Sydney Smith has illustrated multiple children’s books, including Small in the City, Town Is by the Sea, the winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal, The White Cat and the Monk, written by Jo Ellen
Bogart, and the acclaimed Footpath Flowers, which was a New York Times Children’s Book of the Year and a winner of the Governor General Award for Illustration. Born in Nova Scotia in Canada, Sydney now lives in Toronto with his wife and son.
I Talk Like a River is an incredibly moving, effective and evocative picture book about a boy who stutters, based on Jordan’s own experience of stuttering and masterfully illustrated by Kate Greenaway Medalwinning Sydney Smith. For any child who finds words difficult, or feels lost, lonely or that they don’t fit in, this adds a layer of beauty and reassurance, whilst also acceptance and understanding for readers both young and old.
After a day of being unable to speak when asked, and of being given odd looks, a boy and his father go to the river for some quiet time. “It’s just a bad speech day,” says Dad. But the boy can’t stop thinking about all the eyes staring at him, his lips twisting and twirling. When his father points to the river bubbling, churning, whirling and crashing, the boy finds a way to think about how he speaks. Even the river stutters. Like him. “I talk like a river,” he says.
Not only does the book make sense of the issue, it gives it a new lease of life, and awakening and a way in which to think about stuttering that makes it seem more acceptable. And for this alone Sydney and Jordan have done a marvellous job to turn the stigma on it’s head and give a stunning surfacing to stuttering. A great read for anyone that is concerned with how they get their speech out.
Images courtesy of Walker Books, who have published I Talk Like A River by Jordan Scott and Sydney Smith.
I Talk Like A River is available now, published by Walker Books