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Silent riding: Kids’ book recalls 1930s Coney trip with deaf dad

Brooklyn Paper
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He wrote the sounds of silence.

The cacophony of Coney Island’s Boardwalk — the roar of the Cyclone and crashing of the waves — takes center stage in the new, lavishly-illustrated children’s book “The Sound of All Things.” The book’s author, who will appear at the Brooklyn Public Library on March 19, based the story on his memories of growing up with a deaf mother and father in 1930s Brooklyn.

“Write about what you know maybe is true,” said Myron Uhlberg, now 82. “On self-examination, what I did know is growing up with two deaf parents in Brooklyn. Of course I have to write about Brooklyn because that’s what I knew.”

“The Sound of All Things” — Uhlberg’s seventh published book — focuses on a typical weekend from his childhood, spent on Coney Island with his parents. During these expeditions, Uhlberg’s father would ask him to translate the sound of the Boardwalk, to “explain what things sound like, things he could never hear,” he said.

The book’s focus on noise made creating the images a difficult task, said the book’s illustrator.

“Given that it’s a book about sound, it was a challenge to try to figure out ways to use visual stimulants in the painting to show sound,” said Ted Papoulas, a former Brooklynite who now lives in New Jersey.

Papoulas researched old photos of Brooklyn streets and of the Boardwalk in order to created his paintings of Coney Island in the 1930s. Papoulas said that it required a careful process of “thinking of each page and what had to be depicted, and adding details and textures to it to make the scene come to life.”

Uhlberg — who now lives in California — and Papoulas will meet for the first time at the Brooklyn Public Library event on March 19. During the book’s publication process, they communicated by email and phone.

While he is in Brooklyn, Uhlberg plans to head back to Coney Island and chow down on some Nathan’s hot dogs on the Boardwalk. He is also excited to share the Brooklyn he grew up in with readers, because so much of that world has changed, he said.

“The book is my Christmas present, or birthday present, to the Brooklyn that I once lived, and I remember, and will never forget,” he said.

“The Sound of All Things” at the Brooklyn Central Library Dweck Center [10 Grand Army Plaza between Flatbush Avenue and Eastern Parkway in Prospect Heights, (718) 230-2100, www.bklynlibrary.org]. March 19 at 1 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Roberto from Brooklyn Heights says:
This article brought to mind an amazing documentary film that I saw recently - http://www.seewhatimsayingmovie.com
March 17, 2016, 11:15 am

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