Waiting to Sing

Howard Kaplan, Author, Herve Blondon, Illustrator DK Publishing (Dorling Kindersley) $15.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7894-2615-4
Music proves both painful and comforting for a boy and his father after the death of the boy's mother in this picture book by noted poet Kaplan. Through the boy's image-laden narrative, Kaplan describes a family whose ""story was played on the piano."" Brief memories spill out onto the pages like the notes of a well-loved song: the father playing music while the boy falls asleep; the warm fountain of light pouring over the piano top from a G clef-shaped lamp; the sound of ""F r Elise,"" the song that mother most wants to hear as she grows increasingly ill. After the mother dies, neither son nor father can bring himself to play, until one day when the two share a moment of grief--not through words, but through music. The lyrical narrative voice takes on an adult perspective looking back on childhood (""Sometimes I think the greatest distance to be traveled is that between two beating hearts""). This sophistication is echoed by Blondon's (The Well of the Wind) artwork, stylized pastels in warm tones of orange, brown and green with a distant, dreamlike feel. A carefully crafted, deeply felt book likely to be more appreciated by older readers than the typical picture book crowd. Ages 5-8. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
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