cover image When Uncle Took the Fiddle

When Uncle Took the Fiddle

Libba Moore Gray, Libba Moore Gray, Lloyd Bloom. Orchard Books (NY), $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-531-30137-1

Gray (My Mama Had a Dancing Heart) hits all the right notes with this toe-tapping tale. When family members settle down to relax at the end of a long day, they all feel the same way: ""Tired."" But as soon as Uncle reaches for his fiddle the mood changes. As Uncle plays (""Zee zee/ Saw saw/ Ziggle, ziggle, zang""), Grandma, Grandpa, Mama and others grab their own instruments (guitar, mouth harp, washboard, etc.) and join in the mountain-style jam session. Before long, ""folks down in the hollow"" make their way to the house for a dance-filled jamboree. Gray's text is equal parts raucous and cozy, conveying rhythm and sound through fun-to-say onomatopoeic words. The family's attitude adjustment in the face of homespun tunes lightly testifies to the positive effects of music. Bloom (Like Jake and Me) offers readers a down-home look at the sunny side of life in Appalachia. His pale colored-pencil compositions, often tinged with soft browns and pinks, are set on airy expanses of white, emphasizing the characters and their movements. The slightly scraggly countryside and the people, with their bright, elongated faces, their overalls and worn, lace-up boots, all suggest a setting ruled by a strong sense of camaraderie. Ages 4-7. (Sept.)