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The Picture Book Buzz

My Piano - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

Combining a lovely rhyming story of a young girl's first piano recital with a fun glimpses into the internal mechanics of a piano creates a beautiful, musically magic, STEM picture book.

Book cover - girl taking a boy to the front, left of a grand piano after her recital.

My Piano


Author: Jen Fier Jasinski


Illustrator: Anita Bagdi


Publisher: Gnome Road Publishing (2023)


Ages: 4-8


Fiction


Themes:

Piano construction, recital, anxiety, and music


Synopsis:

Explore the workings of a grand piano through the eyes of a young musician as she prepares for and performs her first recital to a crowd of friendly faces. Using lyrical text and a cumulative structure to introduce the instrument, curious readers will easily develop an appreciation for its beauty and design. But be sure to stick around for the performance, where the music will swell - ripple - flow - up to the very end of the show.


An adorable main character and richly colored spreads will have readers everywhere applauding and asking for more. This is a great addition for any library, music and performing arts learning center, or home bookshelf!



Opening Lines:

This is my piano.


Inside is the frame

enclosed in this case,


that lies on these legs

with wheels at their base,

to pillar and prop my piano.


What I LOVED about this book:

I adore endpapers that add to, and bookend, the story. I think you'll agree these two do a wonderful job. The front sets the tone and opening scene for the book - tiny, faint wisps of music drift from the keyboard around an encouraging note from mom "you will be amazing" tucked into the sheet music for "My First Recital." Combined with the young girl anxiously peering past a gap in the curtain on the title page, it's clear the child is worried about performing. Though it is a bit of a spoiler (showing it now), I love that "The End" is not only the end of the book, but also the back endpaper and the end of the recital - sheet music closed and roses on the piano. In addition, to the now strong, confident music wisping up from the piano.

Endpapers - on left, piano keyboard with a recital booklet and a goodluck note from mom. On right, the recital sheet music is closed showing "the end" and three roses sprawled across the keyboard..

Text © Jen Fier Jasinski, 2023. Image © Anita Bagdi, 2023.


A large portion of the book is built on the cumulative rhyme scheme of The House That Jack Built. We are introduced to our young musician as she steps onto the stage and stares at the grand piano, sitting in a sparkling spotlight. As she walks around to the bench, we are jointly introduced to outside of a piano and given the refrain for the rhyme - "the frame/ enclosed in this case,/ that lies on these legs/ with wheels at their base,/ to pillar and prop my piano." The cumulative text starts with the introduction of the pedals and soundboard.

Internal spread - upper left tight focus on the piano's three pedals. Lower left , girl standing to the right of an open grand piano. On right , a look inside the grand piano with the lid up.

Text © Jen Fier Jasinski, 2023. Image © Anita Bagdi, 2023.


These are the pedals

pressed down to the ground,


under the soundboard

where bridges are bound,


fixed to the frame enclosed in the case

that lies on the legs with wheels at their base,

to pillar and prop my piano.


After a tender full-page spread of the girl loving looking into the piano at the copper coiled strings, dampers, and stoppers, Anita Bagdi treats us to some beautiful spot illustrations of the keys, the mechanical workings of the hammers, and a bird's eye view of the inside of the piano.

Internal spread - upper left, keyboard with a small hand resting on a few keys. Lower left, demonstration of a piano's hammer mechanism. On right, an aerial view of the inside of a grand piano.

Text © Jen Fier Jasinski, 2023. Image © Anita Bagdi, 2023.


As the girl sits on the bench, the rhyme breaks from the pattern into three rhymed couplets as the girl, with her heart pounding, chews her lip and fidgets with her hair. Sweet vignettes show her nerves growing and offer a peak into her techniques for stilling them. After a stunning aerial image shows her, hands posed on the keys and bathed in a semi-circle of light, the former rhyme continues - "I watch as my hands move left and right,/ and finger the keys, some black, some white/ that hoist the hammers, swift and light...." Anita out does herself with detailed illustrations of the mechanical workings and labelled internal construction of the piano. With a wrapping up of the cumulative rhyme, we are treated to the favorite image for both Jen and me, a magical double spread.

Internal spread - girl  alone on stage playing piano in a recital as light, music, and words (swell, ripple, and flow) swirl about her and the piano.

Text © Jen Fier Jasinski, 2023. Image © Anita Bagdi, 2023.


Sounds, colors, images, and fun words radiate out of the girl's hands and swirl and her and the piano. And text simply says - "And this is the show." As the magic spills into and around the audience, the rhyme pattern again shifts to rhymingd couplets. The ending is heart-warming, colorful, and encouraging. With gorgeous illustrations radiating a touch of magic and humor. An illustrated glossary and diagram of the piano offer a fun STEM element with an additional look at the internal workings of a piano. A fun author's note offers suggestions on preparing for performances. This is a wonderful book for music lovers, pianists of all ages, and anyone dealing with performance jitters.


Resources:

Collage of photos of a flat paper keyboard and a free standing origami piano.

- do you get nervous or "the jitters"? When? What do you do to calm your nerves? Draw a picture or write a list of the things you do.


- Do you have a favorite instrument or music? Close your eyes and listen to a song. Feel the music and let your mind wander. Now, draw how the music feels to you or how you see the music.


If you missed the interview with Jen Fier Jasinski on Monday, find it (here).


This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions and resources see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

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Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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