Pitch Perfect and Persistent!: The Musical Debut of Amy Cheney Beach

Calkins Creek. Mar. 2023. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781662680083.
Gr 2-5–A cheery picture book biography about Amy Cheney Beach, a white 19th-century musician who was composing songs before she turned two years old. Born into a middle-class New England family in 1867, Beach longed to play her mother’s piano. Her conservative parents forbade her to perform and play in public. But the little girl couldn’t contain her love of music and persisted in composing. Eventually, her tenacity won out, and Beach was able to take piano lessons, perform at recitals, and debut at the Boston Hall of Music at 16. She went on to publish her first symphony not long after and became the first American woman to receive widespread acclaim as a composer of a large-scale work for orchestra. DeLems shares Beach’s accomplishments with a sprightly text. Jay’s signature artwork illuminates the young woman’s rise to fame with bright yellows and sky blues. The lively narrative and images combine to give a rambunctious feel to the work. An author’s note, time line, period photos, musical glossary, and bibliography are included in the back matter. Readers will be inspired by her verve and dedication.
VERDICT A joyous picture book biography about a little known, gifted female musician, that would make a great choice for most nonfiction shelves.

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