Clarinet and Trumpet

HMH. Mar. 2021. 32p. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9780358107477.
K-Gr 4–A lyrical tour de force about individuality, friendship, and community, this humorous picture book highlights such values through musical instruments, showing how even small fractures can become deep divisions. Clarinet and Trumpet are best friends and enjoy making music together until sleek Oboe enters the scene. Clarinet admires how she has two reeds and, suddenly, Trumpet is left in the dust. Trumpet tries to woo his friend back by writing a song for her, but she wants nothing to do with him. Then Trombone enters the scene and Trumpet has a new friend. The woodwinds and the brass turn on each other, quickly gathering friends who are “like them” to their sides. Watching one of the uglier sides of humanity play out amongst personified musical instruments may seem like an unrelenting and horrible metaphor but it is leavened through the frequent use of onomatopoeia—perfectly designed for the braying trombone and the raspy oboe—and the liberal use of musical wordplay as when “the fight crescendoed” or “their friendship fell flat.” Bright and expressive digital art connects readers to the instruments’ plights. Beyond the usual picture book set, readers of all ages will relate to the loss of friendship and how this can sometimes become an overall divisiveness within a once whole community.
VERDICT A timely book that gently explores issues of similarity and difference, of holding on to one’s individuality while also recognizing the importance of others, this is a first purchase for all libraries.

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