cover image Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin

Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin

Chieri Uegaki, illus. by Qin Leng. Kids Can, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-894786-33-1

Inspired by her talented violinist grandfather, Hana signs up to perform at the school talent show—never mind that she’s only had three lessons so far. Hana’s brothers mock her, her parents listen attentively as she practices, and on the day of the talent show, Hana’s uncertainty gives way to inspiration. Uegaki (Rosie and Buttercup) and Leng (Norman, Speak!) are a well-matched and complementary pairing. Uegaki’s prose is dense with detail-rich imagery—during a visit to Japan to stay with Ojiichan, “the clear, bright notes” of her grandfather’s violin “would drift upstairs, through the shoji screen doors to where Hana slept on sweet-smelling tatami mats, and coax her awake as gently as sunshine.” Leng’s digitally colored pencil drawings have the airiness of a violin solo, while still capturing the emotions Hana wrestles with as her performance looms. When she first approaches the microphone, she’s seen crossing an expansive, empty stage, a tiny figure in a red dress against a foreboding sea of gray. Hana’s clever triumph is testament to her inventiveness, perceptiveness, and dedication. Ages 4–8. Illustrator’s agency: Shannon Associates. (Aug.)