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THE RED PIANO by André Leblanc


by André Leblanc & illustrated by Barroux

Age Range: 6 & up

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-9806070-1-7
Publisher: Wilkins Farago/Trafalgar

It’s 1975 in Communist China. For five years, a young girl has endured manual labor, filth and hunger in exile at a re-education camp. But tonight she will engage—once again—in an illicit act: the playing of the piano. In a place where musicians are criminals, she risks it all and is caught. The piano is smashed. Her sentence is lengthened—yet the music lives on. Based on international concert pianist Zhu Xiao-Mei’s life, Leblanc’s story gives insights into the Cultural Revolution and its impact. The text may be heavy-handed at times, but the story is ripe for discussion, with themes of self-expression and freedom, the affirmation of the individual through art and music as a form of resistance. Dazzling collage, pencil and paint illustrations from Barroux create a beautiful chiaroscuro of tension and release. Well-controlled expressive marks portray the young musician's isolation. The limited palette of black, white and red—the latter of which is used to create a sense of intensity—is evocative of Communist China propaganda. A worthy and beautiful tale for historical and cultural studies. (Picture book. 6 & up)