cover image Lulu's Piano Lesson

Lulu's Piano Lesson

Arlene Alda, illus. by Lisa Desimini, Tundra, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-88776-930-6

All week long, curly-headed Lulu keeps promising to practice the piano—but never does. Walking to her piano teacher's house, she's filled with dread: "Lulu's stomach felt like it was on a roller coaster, rising and falling with each step she took," writes Alda, who previously collaborated with Desimini on Iris Has a Virus. But Lulu's tuxedo-wearing piano teacher, Mr. Sharp, is not only completely understanding ("What fun things did you do instead?"), he also shows her how practicing can be exhilarating by having her sing along as she plays "Old MacDonald," substituting the sounds of the past week's activities (the squeak of the swing set, the ring of a bicycle's bell) for the song's animal noises. Weighted down by the text's literalness, life lessons, and overworked conceits, Desimini's often dreamlike cut-paper illustrations struggle to give the narrative some vividness. But the text and pictures don't coalesce into much of a story, and Lulu, whose Orphan Annie 'do appears to be fashioned from a photo of real human hair, never rises above a narrative prop. Ages 4–7. (Aug.)