Symphony City

Amy Martin. McSweeney's McMullens, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-936365-39-5
A girl loses hold of her father's hand in a subway station and finds herself alone in the middle of a city. In Martin's hands, this potentially scary theme becomes a hymn to beauty. The city is filled with music: pianos sound, drums beat, and a band plays ("there is music around every corner/ it comes from the street/ and fills the sky"). The girl wanders, listening and observing ("it starts as a sprout/ and bursts into a forest"), watching and dancing ("it leaps and spins/ across the rooftops") until she finds her way safely home. Martin, in her children's book debut, delivers images of meditative calm; in each spread, blocks of translucent color fill in the background, leaving the contours of the pictures' subjects—hands playing instruments, bodies, buildings—outlined by the white space that remains. Martin succeeds in capturing a world of sound using only visual cues; lyrical yet militantly unsentimental, the book's cool appearance is reinforced by the face of the girl, whose lean features could be an adult's. Comes in a foldout dust jacket on which Martin's artwork is reproduced. All ages. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/04/2011
Release date: 07/01/2011
Genre: Children's
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