Oh this is such a powerful, beautifully written children's book. The powerful nature of it is absorbed more by the parents, the message for the children is one of dancing, family and overcoming. I'm so impressed by a book that can reach both audiences.
Told from the young girl's point of view, and from the safety of her home, we are introduced to the music from the piano as such an important part of their lives with such beautiful descriptions as,
"As Mama sings, her fingers dance,"
As the bright oranges of the illustration change to darker reds the reader knows that things are changing - the boots of soldiers are heard outside and food becomes scarce. Christina Booth deals with loss as the child's parents are forced to sell the much loved piano for a sack of potatoes.
"I feel the colour leave me as Pa holds me close."
Her parents teach her that the music is still there in their souls, "They can never take away our music". The mood is uplifting and significantly, for the first time, the family are shown outside their home - happy and safe surrounded by the countryside.
Pete Groves has used acrylic art on canvas to create visually stunning illustrations, the beautiful hues of orange on the cover are echoed throughout and lift the warmness of the story from the page. Whilst darker reds are used during the realisation of the war, the light oranges return as the family re discover the music to keep their souls warm. The illustrations visually communicate the story so effectively - these are the things that children really respond to as they listen to us reading.
This is a great story for younger readers who will remember the dancing and the music. It will also be useful for older children who are showing awareness of issues such as war. It will help them to appreciate its impact and deepen their understanding.