Finding the melody



By Chieri Uegaki, illustrated by Qin Leng (Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Kids Can Press, 2014, 32 pp.; $16.95, hardcover)

Little Hana Hashimoto is going to play in the school talent show. Inspired by her grandfather, formerly a violinist with a symphony in Kyoto, she announces her debut after only three lessons. Her older brothers laugh, showing little regard for Hana. Hana continues to practice daily.

When the moment arrives for Hana to step onstage (following five violinists, hence the book title) she feels very nervous. She wishes “she could turn into a grain of rice and disappear into a crack between the floorboards.”

Hana “swallowed her nerves like medicine” and narrated the sounds she could make on the violin strings: “a mother crow calling her chicks,” “my neighbor’s cat at night,” “rain on a paper umbrella,” “lowing cows,” “squeaking mice” and “croaking frogs.”

At home that night, her brothers asked for an encore. The family laughed together.

Hana practices each night, imagining the notes would “drift out through the window…and Ojiichan (grandfather) would hear them and smile.”

Ahh, this is a simple, sweet, well-written story with memorable illustrations that enhance the storyline

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