cover image Ellie’s Voice: or Trööömmmpffff

Ellie’s Voice: or Trööömmmpffff

Piret Raud, trans. from the Estonian by Adam Cullen. Yonder, $20 (38p) ISBN 978-1-63206-191-1

Ellie’s a bird “on the sandy shore of a big sea,” and though she has no voice, she notices that others do: “The trees rustle. The waves crash. Even the rain sings when it falls.” She mourns (“Ellie felt tears well up in her eyes”) before finding a strangely twisted horn on the beach. Now she can make a glorious sound that attracts attention from far and wide: “Trööömmmpffff!” When a fish tells Ellie that the horn belongs to Duke Junior, the honorable bird sets out to find him; having done so, she discovers that Duke Junior can make music that puts Ellie’s to shame. She recognizes his artistry for what it is and, with rare selflessness, lays down her desire for the horn and its noise: “she wasn’t the least bit sad that she couldn’t make sounds on her own.” Stylized black-and-white figures by Raud (The Ear) are delicately stippled and festooned with loops of noodle-like hair. The strange, curiously decorated characters draw most of the attention, and in places come close to overshadowing the story itself, as the fable introduces the idea that one can’t judge one’s talent until someone else’s mastery reveals what’s possible. Ages 3–6. [em](Aug.) [/em]