Geraldine (Jellybean), 10, lives in a small New Zealand city with her single mother, a professional cellist. Her lonely existence with babysitters and as tag-along to rehearsals and concerts is redefined with the appearance of Gerald, a British cellist from her mother's past. Mum is loving, but so absorbed in her work that she is unaware that Jellybean is living an odd life, or that her ambition is to be a conductor. In an unguarded moment, Jellybean confides in Gerald (who turns out to be not her father but a discarded fiancÃ‰ for whom she was named as a result of a belated change of heart); this results in Geraldine's first chance to conduct, at a school performance. In a moving, plausible scene--she's practiced conducting this music with tapes, and is helped by a fine young conductor--her giftedness becomes evident. Duder introduces the reader to the intense world of dedicated musicians. Humor and interest are added by such scenes as Jellybean bumbling about backstage during a performance of The Nutcracker. The likable characters are well-drawn, the present-tense narration briskly apt. Another fine novel from down under.