A lonely girl discovers friends by following the sound of music in author Johnson (Windermere’s Wish, 2017, etc.) and illustrator Bohart’s (Let’s Color! Stalk Eyes, 2018) picture book.
When young Ella and Gran move from a city to a “rickety old house on the edge of the Sea,” the girl misses her old home. The first night, she hears strange musical sounds outside her window. She also tries to make friends with a mouse, but it runs away. Gran makes smiley-face pancakes, but Ella remains discouraged, and the nearby town seems empty. At the beach, she hears the sounds again, and she follows them to a band of underwater magical creatures. When she plays music with them, she makes new friends, and when they walk through town, she finds potential human pals as well. Ella’s bravery when she first discovers the creatures—and her reassurances to her teddy bear that everything will be all right—show a strength of character that makes her feel worthy of the magic and friends that surround her. Bohart’s textured, cartoonish illustrations make excellent use of color, showing a dreary town when Ella wanders through it alone and a brightly transformed one when she returns with her new acquaintances.
This story of bravery and friendship offers readers a little bit of magic along with its accessible vocabulary and enchanting pictures.