A bright, colorful introduction to a beloved instrument.
Rusch pairs up with Caldecott honoree Priceman (Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin!, 1995) to produce this biography of the white Italian musician and craftsman Bartolomeo Cristofori. In 1688, Fernando de Medici chose Cristofori to build and restore harpsichords and other instruments. Priceman’s signature artwork is a perfect match for the words, which emphasize Cristofori’s desire for a keyboard instrument capable of the nuance of the violins he hears at the opera and the color he sees in paintings. Banners defining musical terms run across the tops of pages. Throughout are visual and textual cues to the meanings of those terms. One page is headed “pianissimo (very soft),” while the narrative reads, “a hush envelops the room….Feet pad across the room. Cloth rustles. Sand falls silently through an hourglass.” Here, soft purple watercolors surround the words, and a sleeping cat curls around the hourglass. Horses “whinny, snort, and stamp as a young prince and his entourage spring from the carriages to the cobblestones” in reflection of “crescendo (becoming louder).” By 1700, Cristofori’s new instrument, the pianoforte, is complete. Colorful waves of sound pour out of the opened instrument. Source material for the story is effectively embedded in the pages. Extensive backmatter further illuminates the text and invites readers to listen to recordings of surviving and replica pianos.
Delightfully energetic, this will inspire young pianists. (Picture book/biography. 4-8)