cover image VIOLET'S MUSIC


Angela Johnson, , illus. by Laura Huliska-Beith. . Dial, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-2740-3

Although Violet's love of music ostensibly forms the heart of Johnson's (When I Am Old with You ) story, the rhythm and joy of a child's delight in music comes through in neither text nor art. Starting in the nursery at the hospital, where the newborn Violet is already shaking her rattle, the heroine embarks on a years-long search for "other kids like her,/ who dreamed music,/ thought music,/ all day long." But she cannot find them among the babies in the hospital, the members of her family, the children at school or the sunbathers at the beach. Only when she's grown (or nearly so, it's hard to tell) does Violet find kindred spirits at last. The ending scenes strain to make Violet's experience universal. Retracing the narrative path Violet has followed, Violet's friends say they knew they'd find one another some day, " 'Cause when we were in the nursery,/ then were two,/ and later in kindergarten/ and at the beach,/ we kept on looking/ for kids playing music too!" The perspectives and colors in Huliska-Beith's (Favorite Things ) mixed-media illustrations are playful, and they incorporate tiny, humorous details that bear scrutiny, as when four star-like suns wear wristwatches marking the time "from morning till that night." However, the intensely patterned, freeform spreads can also be distracting, as when a baby in the nursery scene appears to levitate above its crib. The effect is more stream-of-consciousness than harmonious. Ages 4-up. (Jan.)