cover image Piano Piano

Piano Piano

Davide Cali, Eric Heliot, , illus. by Eric Heliot, trans. by Randi Rivers. . Charlesbridge, $15.95 (28pp) ISBN 978-1-58089-191-2

Whenever Marcolino ditches piano practice, Mom pulls out her secret weapon: guilt. “When I was your age, I played for hours,” she says wistfully, adding that her own aspirations to be a grand pianist were never realized. “After you were born, I didn’t have time to practice,” she sighs. That’s enough to send a chastened Marcolino back to the ivories “for her” even though he’d much rather be “a grand Formula One racer or a grand firefighter” or any number of other grand professions. But Marcolino’s sympathetic grandfather has a secret weapon of his own: a box of old photographs that reveal Mom was hardly the pianist she claimed to be—in fact, this family drama turns out to be a case of like mother, like son. “Mom’s face turns red, as if a teacher were asking her why her homework wasn’t done,” twits Cali (I Can’t Wait ). The sharp text finds a soulmate in French illustrator Heliot’s offbeat, angular ink drawings, arranged in compositions that take advantage of the book’s short, horizontal format. A jaunty mélange of naïf stylings and retro graphic design references (Grandfather looks like he stepped out of a vintage poster), the pictures also brim with goofy detailing, like Marcolino’s extreme geometric version of a pompadour. It all adds up to a highly satisfying uncovering of a parent’s feet of clay. Ages 6-8. (July)