A squirrel, a pear, and a violin form the key elements in this unusual story that expresses how music can bring a community together.
When a squirrel finds a pear on the ground, he cuts it in two, eating just half because the whole is too big to eat. So the squirrel makes a violin out of the other half. He begins to play, and the music is so sweet that the animals in the forest stop to listen. The fox leaves off chasing the chicken, and the lion pauses his pursuit of the rabbit. Each predator says, “What beautiful music. Let’s stop and listen,” and even begins to cuddle with his respective prey. Soon the forest is peaceful and quiet, filled with the enchantment of the music. When a seed from the pear falls to the ground, it grows into a huge tree filled with all sizes of pears that the squirrel shares with the animals, even the “teeny tiny beetles,” who make their own cellos, violas, and violins. (What the carnivores decide to eat in this music-filled community goes unexplored.) The brightly colored illustrations have the look of mid-20th-century animation and incorporate small, charming details. Both author and illustrator are Chinese, and the book makes its way to North America via New Zealand. The story is gentle and lacking in dramatic appeal, though the idea of turning a pear into a violin is whimsical, and the peaceable kingdom that results is a winningly depicted one.
This quiet tale’s beguiling details may well draw even action-oriented children in long enough that they hear its message. (Picture book. 5-7)