The Piano Recital

Kids Can Pr. Sept. 2019. 32p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781525302572.
PreS-Gr 2–This Japanese import by the creator of The Way Home in the Night captures a young girl’s interior world as she experiences the emotions surrounding her first performance. Soft pencil, charcoal, and acrylic gouache compositions are rendered in a controlled palette, initially comprised of black and white settings with Momo’s dress ranging from a deep red to a brilliant pink, depending on the light. As the round-faced, dark-haired girl waits backstage, heart pounding, she reminds herself: “I’ll be okay.” When the child actually hears the words uttered, she discovers a nervous mouse at her feet, attired in a coordinating dress. The rodent invites the girl to her recital, offering reassurance that there is time. As Momo enters a little door, she finds herself behind an audience of well-dressed mice. Miyakoshi adds quiet greens and yellows, and awe-inspiring acts depicted from dramatic perspectives ensue: acrobats form a tall pyramid, a magician transforms his partner into a butterfly. When a chorus of mice sings, the visitor notes that their timing is not perfect, but they are having fun. Momo forgets her own worries as she accompanies her friend; her acknowledgement of applause occurs before a human audience. Miyakoshi excels at visualizing a young person’s vulnerability in the face of moments that loom large. The idea that performing can be stressful, absorbing, less-than-perfect, and thrilling are all conveyed through a captivating story, rather than a heavy-handed message.
VERDICT Honoring imagination, this enchanting fantasy offers alternatives and antidotes to anxiety.

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