MY FRIEND THE PIANO

A girl discovers the piano and starts composing in this entry from Cowan (My Life With the Wave), a very loose adaptation of a story by An°bal Menterio Machado. Although the piano and the girl are clearly soul mates, what is music to the girl’s ears is poison to her mother’s: “That is not playing. It’s noise.” The mother orders lessons, but both girl and piano balk at the routine and the stifling of their creativity. The practice sessions are flat or sharp or atonal, never fun or successful. When it looks as if a grandmother is going to come to live with them, the mother puts the piano up for sale, but it misbehaves for prospective buyers. Indeed, the piano, as a piano, can’t be given away; the woman who claims it plans to turn it into stripped and painted storage. The piano literally bristles at this outrage; Hawkes has ably and elegantly shaped the artwork for this book, in perfect concord with Cowan’s words. In the process of delivering the piano—the girl and her father are rolling it to its fate—the instrument, with the girl on top, makes its escape into the wide blue sea (she jumps off at the last minute). The piano serenades the girl with symphonies carried to the shore on breezes from distant climes while she composes “for pots and pans,” a musical undertaking that serves those wretched parents right. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-688-13239-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1998

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Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference.

SOFIA VALDEZ, FUTURE PREZ

From the Questioneers series

Sofia Valdez proves that community organizers of any age can have a positive impact.

After a trash-heap eyesore causes an injury to her beloved abuelo, Sofia springs into action to bring big change to her neighborhood. The simple rhymes of the text follow Sofia on her journey from problem through ideas to action as she garners community support for an idyllic new park to replace the dangerous junk pile. When bureaucracy threatens to quash Sofia’s nascent plan, she digs deep and reflects that “being brave means doing the thing you must do, / though your heart cracks with fear. / Though you’re just in Grade Two.” Sofia’s courage yields big results and inspires those around her to lend a hand. Implied Latinx, Sofia and her abuelo have medium brown skin, and Sofia has straight brown hair (Abuelo is bald). Readers will recognize Iggy Peck, Rosie Revere, and Ada Twist from Beaty’s previous installments in the Questioneers series making cameo appearances in several scenes. While the story connects back to the title and her aptitude for the presidency in only the second-to-last sentence of the book, Sofia’s leadership and grit are themes throughout. Roberts’ signature illustration style lends a sense of whimsy; detailed drawings will have readers scouring each page for interesting minutiae.

Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3704-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

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TEA WITH MILK

In describing how his parents met, Say continues to explore the ways that differing cultures can harmonize; raised near San Francisco and known as May everywhere except at home, where she is Masako, the child who will grow up to be Say’s mother becomes a misfit when her family moves back to Japan. Rebelling against attempts to force her into the mold of a traditional Japanese woman, she leaves for Osaka, finds work as a department store translator, and meets Joseph, a Chinese businessman who not only speaks English, but prefers tea with milk and sugar, and persuades her that “home isn’t a place or a building that’s ready-made or waiting for you, in America or anywhere else.” Painted with characteristic control and restraint, Say’s illustrations, largely portraits, begin with a sepia view of a sullen child in a kimono, gradually take on distinct, subdued color, and end with a formal shot of the smiling young couple in Western dress. A stately cousin to Ina R. Friedman’s How My Parents Learned To Eat (1984), also illustrated by Say. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-395-90495-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

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