Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin by Chieri Uegaki

 

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.