Ava needs to pick an instrument in order to join in her family’s holiday concert, a priority for her family but not for her.
Her mother plays piano, her father the violin, and her two brothers the cello and clarinet. Dismayed by her parents’ suggestions of instruments she might like (piano, flute, violin), Ava chooses the tuba, certain that no one will want her to perform. Lessons with Rodney, the friendly high school marching band tuba player, get her hooked on the shiny brass instrument. She almost gives up when the loud sounds coming from her difficult-to-play tuba yield negative reactions from her brother, classmates—even the neighbor’s dog. But Rodney encourages her to stick with it, and she happily plays in a special tuba-only holiday concert. Ava, light-skinned and freckled, belongs to an interracial family. Her red hair matches her white mother’s. Her brothers’ skin tones are closer to their brown-skinned, ponytailed father’s. The wonderfully diverse cast of characters, from Rodney, an African-American with locs, to Ava’s schoolmates and the musicians who make up the tuba band, demonstrates the book’s embrace of ensemble participation. Watercolors cheerily splash across the nicely designed pages. A variety of typefaces and perspectives lends a lively, rhythmic feel to the book. A description of real-life “tuba Christmas” concerts follows the story.
A delightful take on nonconformity within a lovingly supportive, musical family. (Picture book. 4-8)