“Perfect Picture Book” – Friday

The Little Piano Girl

Written by: Ann Ingalls and Maryann Macdonald

Illustrated by: Giselle Potter

Published by: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children 2010

Ages:   5 – 8 years

Theme: music, jazz, acceptance, non-fiction,

Opening Lines: The night she left Georgia, Mary couldn’t see anything but lights out the train window…but she could hear. She listened to the train and clapped out its sound on her knees. She sang the sound of its whistle. “Chug-ga, chug-ga, chug-ga…Toot! Toot!”

Synopsis: From Amazon – What if you loved music more than anything? Suppose you had just learned to play the piano. Imagine that your family has to move to a new city and you have to leave your piano behind. People don’t like you in the new city because of what you look like. How will you make yourself feel better? Mary Lou Williams, like Mozart, began playing the piano when she was four; at eight she became a professional musician. She wrote and arranged music for Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, and was one of the most powerful women in jazz. This is the story of Mary Lou’s childhood in Pittsburgh, where she played the piano for anyone who would listen.

Why I like this: This is a beautiful story about the music legend Mary Lou Williams. Her love of Jazz, especially at a very young age, shifting from home to home and being accepted. I loved how the story concentrates on her childhood (as one reviewer on amazon put it… the story is upbeat and there is no unnecessary background information) showing how the piano was her life, it made her happy when she was sad. It brought people into her life, and helped her through difficult times as a child. She realized how powerful music was and enjoyed playing to anyone who would listen. A small Afterword near the back of the book gives a brief overview of Mary Lou Williams music career. Giselle’s illustrations of the doll-like figures and patterned background give a period look in deep colours. This is an excellent book for use in the classroom giving children an introduction to Jazz music and accepting others of diverse backgrounds. The authors  of this book are sisters and love music.

Resources/Findings:  Hear the story being read here…   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrEnqpZvHig

A Teachers guide in first lessons in teaching beginner piano players…   http://www.alfred.com/img/pdf/Piano/8889_TchGde_PrepA.pdf

I’m always pleased to be able to bring you some more special books that have come my way and be able to share them with you and join other great writers over at Susanna’s Blog, where there are literally hundreds of book reviews to view.  So pop over  and visit the lovely author, Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog and find the tab for Perfect Picture Books.    Her blog is full of resources links and activities associated with books reviewed by many authors

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About Diane Tulloch

Known also as the Patientdreamer I am a writer who loves to dream, and is passionate about writing stories for the young so that they may join me in the wonders of adventure in countries and cultures afar, and in special moments to remember.
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13 Responses to “Perfect Picture Book” – Friday

  1. I love to read the childhood stories about musicians like Mary Lou Williams. She certainly was a childhood prodigy who heard the entire world in musical patterns and song. Such an important story for young musicians.

  2. Half way through your review, I had to stop to add this book to my “must-check-this-fab-book-from-my-library” list. What a powerful story! I already feel sad for Mary having to leave her piano behind when her family moves. Leaving anything beloved behind is never easy. I’m looking forward to reading this book.

    • Glad you liked the review and I think you will certainly enjoy this story. It’s interesting how it says a lot without going into too much detail. For writers it’s a great way of showing how a line or two about special moments in ones life can really show the time it takes place, about her character and what is important to her and why. She used music in her head to overcome the bad times. Yep it’s a great story. Well written.

  3. Thanks for the introduction to this – hope my library has it.

  4. Oh, I love the cover and was instantly enthralled. I have the book on reserve at the library. I can’t wait to read it. Thanks for featuring it. It looks like quite a find.

  5. Joanna says:

    Another great addition to an class doing music or musicians as a unit. Thanks, Diane.

  6. Sue Heavenrich says:

    I had never heard of Mary Lou – thanks for sharing this book. Now I’ve got to open my ears for more jazz

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