cover image The Bear and the Piano

The Bear and the Piano

David Litchfield. Clarion, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-544-67454-7

After finding a piano in the woods, a brown bear teaches himself to play (even though he doesn’t know what it is, exactly), going on to wow his fellow bears and, later, the world. Newcomer Litchfield explores the life of a musician from several angles: the necessity of practice (after “days and weeks and months of years” of playing, “the sounds that came from the strange thing were beautiful”), the allure of fame, and the loneliness of leaving home, even when one’s name and face are plastered across Broadway. The bear achieves stratospheric success (platinum records, sold-out shows), and after he returns to his forest (still wearing a rumpled tuxedo), he discovers that his brethren have been proudly following his career, not resenting his absence. Litchfield’s multilayered mixed-media illustrations gracefully portray dappled forest groves, the energy of a packed concert hall, and the simultaneous bustle and solitude of city life. The bear’s emotions—contentment, pride, uncertainty, relief—are captured with equal skill in a tenderly moving story about embracing one’s potential while remembering one’s roots. Ages 4–7. [em]Agent: Anne Moore Armstrong, Bright Group. (Apr.) [/em]