cover image Playing at the Border: A Story of Yo-Yo Ma

Playing at the Border: A Story of Yo-Yo Ma

Joanna Ho, illus. by Teresa Martinez. HarperCollins, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-299454-7

Employing the refrain “feet planted on the soil of one nation,/ eyes gazing at the shores of another,” Ho pens a time-travelling free verse profile of Parisian-born, Chinese American cellist Yo-Yo Ma, former child prodigy and current philanthropist, multi–Grammy Award winner, and a 2011 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Using Ma’s Bach Project as framework—specifically 2019 performances along the U.S.-Mexico border opposing anti-immigrant rhetoric—Ho surveys Ma’s background and accolades, as well as the multicultural origins of his cello: “Pieces united in one instrument,/ one language.” Digital art by Martinez has a softly rounded, approachable feel, depicting emotion-filled people of differing abilities, religions, sizes, and skin tones in a mellow palette. An ambitious portrait of a storied humanitarian with a clear message of advocacy. Back matter features more information on the figure and his music, and an author’s note. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)