cover image The Voice of the Wood

The Voice of the Wood

Claude Clement, Frederic Clement. Dial Books, $16 (26pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-0635-4

A maker of violins looks at a tree that grows outside his window in Venice, and envisions boats on the canal gliding by, or fluid music haunting its branches. When the tree dies and is cut down, the craftsman stores the wood away for many years. At last he creates a cello from the wood, which a famous musician, costumed and masked, tries and fails to play. Only when he slips free of his mask and plays from the heart does the cello respond beneath his fingers, and music fills the city. With the visual clarity of the fabulist Magritte and the sensibility of Escher, the artist conjures up an odd world of meshed realities. A classical setting contrasts with the ``voice of the wood'': a reminder that many agreeable things in lifeboats, books, pages of musicbelonged first to nature. Ages 5-up. (Mar.)