cover image Pianna


Mary Lyn Ray. Harcourt Children's Books, $14.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-15-261357-0

An octagenarian's love of piano music is traced back to her childhood memories in this tender, nostalgic picture book. As a girl growing up in New Hampshire, Anna could memorize pieces of music and play them by ear. Her parents recognized her talent and encouraged her by sending her into Boston for weekly piano lessons. So enthralled was Anna by playing and practicing that her brothers and sisters took to calling her ``Pianna.'' Conveyed much like an admiring transcribed interview, this tribute to a colorful member of a New England community avoids sentimentality and excess in its portrayal of a child's passion. Ray's ( Pumpkins ) well-chosen glimpses of a bygone world should pique the interest of young readers. In her picture book debut, Henba's acrylic paintings manage to saturate the pages with color while also demonstrating a delicate touch. Homey period details and clothing, rendered in a style reminiscent of Barbara Cooney's, provide further historical and aesthetic texture. Even for those who have never tickled the ivories, this selection is music to the ears. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)