When Hana Hashimoto signs up for the school talent show after only three violin lessons, her brothers laugh, but with diligent practice, she learns to make some surprising sounds.
Long ago, Hana’s grandfather Ojiichan was a professional violinist in Japan. When she and her brothers visited him the previous summer, he would play for them. She loved to hear what he could do with his instrument. Not only did he play classical pieces, he could play songs, imitate natural sounds and compose melodies for dancing fireflies. Hana hopes to learn to play like that. Uegaki’s narrative and Leng’s pleasing illustrations, spreads and vignettes drawn with pencil and digitally colored, seamlessly incorporate details of both Japanese and North American life. Hana practices every day. She plays for her unappreciative brothers, attentive parents, curious dog or a row of empty chairs (one holding a picture of her grandfather). When it’s time to perform, she worries and waits with “a walloping heart.” Two moving spreads show the small child on a vast stage, emphasizing her sudden anxiety and the relief of finding friendly faces in the audience.
This sweet multicultural story will resonate with anyone who has experienced stage fright, but Hana’s achievement will be particularly satisfying to young string players who have made some unusual music themselves. (Picture book. 5-8)