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WHAT A SONG CAN DO by Jennifer Armstrong


Twelve Riffs on the Power of Music

edited by Jennifer Armstrong

Age Range: 10 & up

Pub Date: June 8th, 2004
ISBN: 0-375-82499-5
Publisher: Knopf

Alas, this collection does not sing. Like many anthologies built around a theme, most of these stories have a manufactured air—the music inserted like a clause in a narrative sentence. There are some bright notes, however. Ron Koertge’s opening story offers his usual wry look inside the heads of a handful of teens in the high school band—who they are and why they play the instruments they chose—each sketched for a full beat. Dian Curtis Regan’s story illuminates synesthesia—hearing music in colors, two senses colliding. Ann Manheimer’s “Riffs” is a children-of-Holocaust-survivors story where music is only the McGuffin; David Levithan limns a tender gay love story in lyrics in the tale that gives the anthology its title. The Rom (Gypsies), the album Buena Vista Social Club, and the Civil War figure in various tales to musical accompaniment. Minor, but you can occasionally dance to it. (Short stories. 10+)