Vivaldi

Helge Torvund, trans. from the Norwegian by Jeanie Shaterian and Thilo Reinhard, illus. by Mari Kanstad Johnsen. NYR Children’s Collection, $16.99 (96p) ISBN 978-1-68137-374-4
At school, young, selectively nonverbal Tyra is ostracized, friendless, and teased for her stutter, but during summer break, her parents allow her to rescue a kitten. Tyra is filled with music when she spends time with her furry companion, whom she names Vivaldi after the classical composer she listens to with her grandmother, and the sweeping melodies bring color to her lonely life. When fall arrives and school resumes, though, her isolation is unrelenting, and neither Vivaldi—cat nor composer—can ease the hard lump that Tyra carries in her chest. Only after a classmate expresses concern about their peers’ treatment of Tyra do adults become alerted to her circumstances and make the necessary changes to engage with and protect her. Originally published in Norwegian, this English translation has a poetic quality (“You can cry inside yourself,/ and the crying can sleep there/ and now wake up”). The evocative descriptions of Tyra’s painful experiences with emotionally and physically abusive bullies pair powerfully with the boldly colored, abstract, mixed-media illustrations by Johnsen (I’m Out of Here). Tyra’s confusion about why she’s been isolated by her peers and her struggle to seek help is moving and impactful, as is the book’s message about the life-changing power of taking a stand to help others. Ages 8–12. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 10/30/2019
Release date: 11/05/2019
Genre: Children's
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