cover image Operatic


Kyo Maclear, illus. by Byron Eggenschwiler. Groundwood, $19.95 (160p) ISBN 978-1-55498-972-0

Taking on friendships, crushes, cliques, and music culture, Maclear offers an honest, deeply respectful look at what is at the core of belonging and isolation for teenagers. Charlie Noguchi narrates her middle-school existence through the lens of her music teacher’s assignment to “choose a song for this moment in your life and write about it.” She pines for Emile, a quiet aspiring entomologist, and wonders about the mysterious prolonged absence of Luka, a femme boy who sings like an angel and once disturbed kids and adults at school with his unapologetic fabulousness (“All the boys who acted like they didn’t care about anything saw him singing like he cared about everything,” Charlie observes). Lush illustrations by Eggenschwiler (Coyote Tales) are color coded—yellow for Charlie, blue for Luka, and red for Maria Callas, the singer Charlie claims for her own and whose biography is threaded through the present-day story. When Charlie, Emile, Luka, and friends find the courage to express themselves together, their music creates a rainbow. With poetic words and pictures, Maclear and Eggenschwiler create a synesthetic experience that captures all the high and low notes of youth. Ages 10–14. [em](Apr.) [/em]