A young Chinese girl and an elderly white man develop a bond through a shared love of music.
Moving to a new neighborhood or city is tough enough. Moving to a new country where you don’t speak the language is even more daunting. Not long after the narrator arrives in Montreal from China, she meets Mr. Mergler at a nearby park. When he asks her to sing her favorite song for him, he recognizes her aptitude for music and offers to give her piano lessons. Under Mr. Mergler’s patient tutelage, the narrator quickly learns to decipher the notes on the page into music. “My fingers began to fly, and so did my lessons.” Mr. Mergler isn’t the only one keeping track of her progress. The narrator imagines that Beethoven, or rather a bust of the famous composer, shows his approval (or lack thereof) from his perch atop Mr. Mergler’s piano. Barely six months later, the elderly piano teacher is too weak to teach anymore. Upon his death, he leaves his “star pupil” a poignant letter and a precious gift. Cinq-Mars’ delicate sketches, hand-drawn in color pencil, frame Gutnick’s quiet text with charm and whimsy. The affection between the narrator and her teacher, as well as within her family, is palpable. An author’s note reveals that Mr. Mergler was a real, longtime piano teacher in Montreal and provides a biographical sketch of Beethoven.
A heartwarming story about the magic of music, intergenerational relationships, and believing. (Picture book. 4-9)