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Review of Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin

uegaki_hana hashimoto, sixth violinHana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin
by Chieri Uegaki; illus. by Qin Leng
Primary    Kids Can    32 pp.
8/14    978-1-894786-33-1    $16.95

Despite her brothers’ teasing, little Hana plans to play her violin at the talent show. True, she’s only a beginner, but Hana is a stalwart and determined young lady, practicing every day and performing for any audience that will listen, including a framed picture of her grandfather. Ojiichan is her musical inspiration, a former orchestral violinist who, during Hana’s recent visit to Japan, played his instrument for her all through the day. In the genial, lighthearted illustrations, musical notes drift upstairs to wake Hana “as gently as sunshine”; waft through the “indigo evenings”; and cover her “like a blanket” as Ojiichan plays a lullaby. His violin also makes sounds — crickets, raindrops — and melodies that seem to encourage fireflies to dance. When Hana finally steps onto the talent-show stage (on a double-page spread that captures how long her walk to the microphone feels and the immensity of both stage and beyond), she is terrified. But she remembers her grandfather’s advice to do her best and proceeds to give an, ahem, memorable performance: Hana’s violin mimics the sounds of a (“squawky”) mother crow, a (yowling) cat, bees, cows, mice, frogs, and more. “And that,” she declares, “is how I play the violin.” The final illustration shows musical notes traveling out her bedroom window to Ojiichan. And that, folks, is how you tell a completely charming yet refreshingly unsentimental tale of an intergenerational bond of love.

From the September/October 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Jennifer M. Brabander

Jennifer M. Brabander is former senior editor of The Horn Book Magazine.

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Comments

  1. Haven’t seen this yet, but am greatly motivated to seek it out pronto. Lovely review of a subject I always am warmed by.

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