Monday, September 14, 2009

Song of Middle C

by Alison McGhee, illustrated by Scott Menchin
Candlewick, 2009. Unpaged. Picture Book
The unnamed young lady of this delightful picture book has practiced her fingers to the bone ( Hoo boy, have I been practicing!) preparing for her first piano recital where she will play "Dance of the Wood Elves." When the big day arrives she is ready--ready until she sits down with her thumbs positioned on middle C and realizes that what you knew before you sat down in front of all those people, you don't know anymore. Even her lucky underwear has failed her. Even after several "one, and two ands" the song doesn't come. "There was only one thing to do . . . . I play middle C like thunder. I play it like wind. I play it like a question. I play it like tiny wood elves who have lost their lucky underwear." The crowd erupts in applause for the brilliant improvisations on middle C. Stage fright gives way to an unexpected triumph which not even the big brother's whispered "you forgot your piece didn't you" can mar. A very funny look at music lessons, recitals, and the courage and wit to go on.

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