Little, Brown/Christy Ottaviano. May 2022. 304p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780316311359.
Gr 3-7–Narrator Mirabelle’s positive (and slightly sassy) disposition is inviting from the first sentence, as she befriends a boy taking piano lessons from the music teacher whose backyard she lives in. Mirabelle is a goldfinch who loves singing more than anything and is fascinated by the talented new student. Michael is naturally gifted but reluctant to play because he is upset about having to leave behind a beloved former teacher; missing his father, who is working away from home; and nervous about starting middle school in the fall. However, when there are no adults in the music room, the goldfinch sings while he plays, and they develop a special bond. Before long, Mirabelle has become Michael’s good luck charm, and he feels like he cannot play without her, which complicates his preparations for a music festival featuring works of the Polish composer Chopin. Meanwhile, Mirabelle’s world is rocked when her mother lays three new eggs, meaning she and her brothers will have to start being more independent. The narrative pace is meandering with low stakes, until action picks up in the last quarter of the book as the music teacher becomes ill and light is shed on the mystery of a missing piano. An author’s note clarifies which details on goldfinches and Chopin are factual and which are embellishments. Students with some experience in vocal or musical instrument performance will no doubt be drawn in by the shop talk as both bird and boy learn to broaden their horizons.
VERDICT This touching novel explores themes of family, friendship, loss, art, and music through the perspective of a bubbly but reflective narrator. Recommended for large fiction collections.

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