Saturday, June 29, 2019

Review - The Piano Recital

The Piano Recital
by Akiko Miyakoshi
Date: 2012
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

It's the day of Momo's first piano recital. As she nervously waits for her turn to play, she tells herself, "I'll be okay... I'll be okay ..." Then she hears a voice nearby, also saying, "I'll be okay... I'll be okay..." It's a mouseling! And the little mouse is nervous about her first performance, too. The mouseling invites Momo through a small door backstage, where Momo is amazed to find a miniature theater filled with an audience of finely dressed mice there to watch singers, dancers and circus performers! When it's the mouseling's turn, Momo agrees to accompany her on piano. The mouse audience is so appreciative! But then, as she rises to take her bow, Momo is surprised to discover - it isn't a mouse audience at all!

Here's another magical, dreamlike picture book from Akiko Miyakoshi, the multi-award-winning and internationally bestselling author-illustrator. The imaginative narrative is woven around the common childhood experience of anxiety, felt by performers but also by every child who faces a new life challenge. Momo serves as a wonderful example to children, using the power of her imagination to understand and work through her feelings. Even the youngest readers will be able to follow this story through the beautiful and fantastically detailed illustrations, which perfectly capture Momo's emotions as she transitions from the real to the imagined and back again.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This is simply adorable! I first encountered this author's work in The Tea Party in the Woods. This book features a similar illustration style (although it's a little less creepy in spots), with lots of black-and-white drawings and touches of colour. In this story, Momo is preparing for her turn at the piano recital. She's very nervous. But someone else is nervous, too. She looks down and sees a mouse in a fancy dress who's preparing for her own recital. The mouse invites Momo to watch the murine performance, and to help her new friend, Momo offers to accompany her on the piano. At the end, we find out that Momo has actually been performing for the human audience, having used her imagination to overcome her anxiety.

I really like the pictures in this. The mouse theatre is especially charming, with all the dressed-up mice filling the seats. Perhaps understandably (given that it's in Momo's imagination), there's more colour in these scenes; in the "real world", the only pops of colour are Momo's red dress and her pink cheeks.

I enjoyed this book more than The Tea Party in the Woods, partly because of the relatable story, partly because of the illustrations. I'd recommend this one to those looking for books about performance anxiety, who enjoy talking-animal fantasies, or who simply want a good story.

Thank you to NetGalley and Kids Can Press for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 5/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 4/5
Illustrations: 4/5
Originality: 5/5

Enjoyment: 5/5

Overall: 4.67 out of 5

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