The Piano Recital
The Piano Recital
“This way … this way,” the mouseling calls as she scurries farther and farther inside.
Crouching down, Momo takes a breath and wriggles through the door…
A mouse steps onto the stage.
“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, spectators and performers - let us all enjoy today’s performances!”
The audience claps.
The curtain rises and a circus act begins.
Momo watches in awe.
For their finale, the circus performs a towering mouse pyramid. Sprinting across the stage, the last acrobat leaps right to the very top.
Momo claps excitedly, “Wow!”
The next performance is a magic act. As the orchestra plays, a pair of mice dances. Then a scarf is thrown over the mouse in the red dress and…. in the blink of an eye her dress turns yellow! “Amazing!” The audience is delighted.
As other children perform their piano recitals, Momo, in a beautiful red dress, stands off-stage, heart racing, clutching her music nervously as she repeats quietly, “I’ll be okay, I’ll be okay.” Suddenly she hears someone else repeating the same mantra at her feet. A small mouse in an equally lovely concert dress stands there. She is part of a parallel concert occurring in her world, and she invites Momo to attend. Momo enters a magical world complete with mouse singers, dancers, acrobats and an audience of finely dressed mice. When the mouseling is so nervous about her own performance, Momo offers to accompany her on the piano. Knowing she is helping a friend, Momo plays with confidence. Momo takes a bow only to realize she has sailed through her own performance as an audience of people, not mice, applaud.
In a translation of the Japanese version of this book originally published in 2012, this award-winning international author/illustrator depicts a child coping with her anxiety and fear by subconsciously reverting to the power of her imagination. The text, with its slightly Japanese flavour, is direct and easy to follow, capturing perfectly a young child’s apprehension at her first piano recital and then her absorption in her imaginary world.
Beautiful illustrations in black and grey with touches of vivid color are rendered in pencil, charcoal and acrylic gouache. They demonstrate Momo’s initial fear and vulnerability and her subsequent delight as she ‘views’ the mouse concert. The stunning rendition of the latter is particularly amazing, revealing the symmetry of seats and audience and the beautiful fantastical dress and accomplishments of the tiny performers.
The charm of The Piano Recital’s story with its deeper message about facing your fears is matched only by its visual appeal…a feast for eyes and ears that children will enjoy.
Aileen Wortley is a retired Children’s librarian from Toronto, Ontario.