From the duo who produced The Painter and the Wild Swans (1986), another enigmatic picture-book exploring the meaning of creativity and art. The scene is Venice, where a craftsman makes musical instruments and admires the magically lovely old tree behind his shop. After the tree dies during a hard winter, he stores its wood till his own old age, when he uses it to make his masterpiece: a fine cello. During the Grand Carnival, a great musician comes to try the cello--but, as the craftsman has predicted, the cello makes only "brutal, grating sounds." Only after the crowds have dispersed and the cellist has removed his mask can he produce the beautiful music for which the cello was made--together with new, leafy branches that sprout anew from the cello's old wood. This modern fable is perfectly matched by eerily serene paintings--tones of gray-blue touched with rust--where dreamlike forms seem to float on dappling light like the city itself, now sharply defined, now dissolving in mist. A beautifully designed book, to feed the imagination of the special reader. Only in Venice. . .