Narrator: Qin Leng
Published by Kids Can Press on August 1, 2014
Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for review consideration.
IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon
In this beautifully written picture book, Hana Hashimoto has signed up to play her violin at her school's talent show. The trouble is, she's only a beginner, and she's had only three lessons. Her brothers insist she isn't good enough. ?It's a talent show, Hana,? they tell her. ?You'll be a disaster!? Hana remembers how wonderfully her talented grandfather, or Ojiichan, played his violin when she was visiting him in Japan. So, just like Ojiichan, Hana practices every day. She is determined to play her best. When Hana's confidence wavers on the night of the show, however, she begins to wonder if her brothers were right. But then Hana surprises everyone once it's her turn to perform --- even herself!
The Asian American female protagonist in this story offers a unique perspective, and bestselling author Chieri Uegaki has woven in lyrical scenes from Japan that add depth and resonance. The details in the artwork by Qin Leng connect the two places and contain a feeling of melody throughout. In the classroom, this book could serve as a celebration of music and performing arts, multicultural studies or the importance of intergenerational relationships. It is also a fabulous character education tie-in for discussing courage and perseverance. This terrifically inspiring book offers hope and confidence to all children who are yearning to master something difficult. Perhaps even more important, it allows children to see that there is more than one way to be successful at a task.
Memories of time spent in Japan visiting her grandfather, a professional violinist, inspire Hana to play her violin in her school talent show, even though she’s only had a few lessons. Hana spends every spare moment practicing, despite unsupportive comments from her brothers, and finds a way to face her own performance anxiety the day of the show.
The illustrations are stunning, and I especially appreciated Leng’s attention to accurate details: the violin and the bow are shown in the correct hands, music notes are properly drawn. Uegaki’s use of language is beautifully descriptive: “From his study, the clear, bright notes would drift upstairs, through the shoji screen doors to where Hana slept on sweet-smelling tatami mats, and coax her awake as gently as sunshine.”
If you’ve ever heard a beginning violinist, you know just how terrible it can sound — all the scratches and squeaks. Instead of performing a classical piece she isn’t ready for yet, Hana uses her imagination to play the best of her ability. She uses her violin to make simple but wonderful connections between music and the world around her, and shares that with her audience.
Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin is a sweet, inspiring picture book would make a great gift for younger children just starting out in music lessons, regardless of instrument.