cover image Because


Mo Willems, illus. by Amber Ren. Hyperion, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-136801901-9

A quiet Willems book traces a child’s path to her musical vocation as the consequence of a string of events and contributions: “Because a man named Ludwig wrote beautiful music—/ a man named Franz was inspired to create his own.” For the love of Schubert, present-day musicians form an orchestra. They practice and schedule a concert, and because “someone’s uncle caught a cold,” a brown-skinned girl in a red sweatshirt gets a ticket, and the experience changes her. She floats out of the concert hall; vignettes show her practicing multiple instruments diligently. Because “she worked very hard”—and because “she was also very lucky”—she becomes a composer, and the performance of her work joins the chain of events that change lives. Willems’s story celebrates making music while acknowledging those whom celebrations of high culture sometimes ignore: “Because workers checked the lights and the seats....” Debut illustrator Ren takes the sprightly energy of The Philharmonic Gets Dressed and adds depth, with distinctive expressions for each diverse face and a wonderful vision of the powerful emotions that music evokes—building on the idea that it takes multiple players to create something wonderful. Ages 3–5. [em]Author’s agent: Marcia Wernick, Wernick & Pratt Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Jen Rofé, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Mar.) [/em]