cover image The Cardboard Piano

The Cardboard Piano

Lynne Rae Perkins, . . Greenwillow, $17.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-06-154265-7

Perkins subtly explores friendship in this understated, appealing picture book. Debbie (an older version appears in Perkins's All Alone in the Universe and the Newbery Medal–winning Criss Cross ) and Tina spend their days “doing beautiful wonderful things”—playing dress up, making tents from bedspreads and talking. Debbie wants to share her piano lessons, too, and because Tina doesn't have a piano, Debbie painstakingly crafts a keyboard from cardboard so they can both practice. But she is sad when Tina loses interest. After questioning their friendship, Debbie ultimately concurs that a cardboard piano is missing the “best part,” realizing that she and Tina share enough already. Perkins's dialogue, shown in speech bubbles, is spot on, and her watercolors reveal a range of underlying emotions in everyday moments. An animated DVD narrated by Perkins is also included. Ages 4–7. (Nov.)