In this Japanese import, a child imagines a fantastical mouse theater as a means of overcoming her piano-recital anxiety.
A glowering girl walks grimly forward on the title page, sheet music tucked under arm. Her red velvet dress, both celebratory and somber, reflects the duality of the occasion. As she repeats a calming mantra, she spies a “mouseling” doing the same. The latter invites the pixie-haired Momo—a young Japanese girl—to her mouse theater, where acrobats, dancers, and an orchestra perform. When it is the mouseling’s turn to go on stage, Momo graciously offers to accompany her on piano. As they fill the hall with music and joy, Momo realizes she has actually played at her own piano recital, and she stands to the audience’s applause. Using pencil, charcoal, and gouache, the artist uses a monochromatic palette to skillfully capture theatrical light and staging. Red and other, more-muted colors easily identify the protagonist and act as accents. As the fantasy world of mice and their performances is introduced, Miyakoshi’s artwork opens up into a lavish rendering of an exquisite mouse theater. Unfortunately, the visual density of the mouse world and the simplified interpretation of the human world—in particular the styling of Momo’s face—are not seamlessly merged. However, the beauty of the mice and their environment is a feast for the eyes.
A soothing, fanciful adventure for those fretting about an upcoming performance. (Picture book. 3-7)