Review of The Green Piano: How Little Me Found Music

How Little Me Found MusicThe Green Piano: How Little Me Found Music
by Roberta Flack with Tonya Bolden; illus. by Hayden Goodman
Primary    Schwartz/Random    40 pp.
1/23    9780593479872    $18.99
Library ed.  9780593479889    $21.99
e-book ed.  9780593479896    $11.99

This engaging picture-book memoir by multiple-Grammy-winner Flack, known for such 1970s megahits as “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” and “Killing Me Softly with His Song,” opens with young Roberta’s early childhood. She describes it as filled with musical inspirations (her parents played harmonica and organ; she listened to classic songs on the radio) and dominated by her love of the piano and the dream of owning one. Flack’s story finds its focus when her daddy brings home a piano from a junkyard (“old, beat-up, weather-worn, faded…and it stank!”), cleans it up, tunes it, and paints it green. Flack’s delight in making music is at the center of the story, as she describes the joy she takes at playing her piano and her hours and hours of practice, with her success as an adult musician shown only briefly as the “­bigger dream” that her dedication made possible. That delight in making music is evident throughout in ­Goodman’s gouache illustrations, which show Flack’s face shining ecstatically when she plays; Goodman fills those pages with joyful green swirls, as if the essence of that beloved green piano is escaping into the air. An author’s note from Flack adds more details and a list of career highlights completes the book.

From the March/April 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Laura Koenig

Laura Koenig is the Team Leader for Central Library Children's Services at the Boston Public Library.

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