Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Sunday, March 12, 2023

There's Magic In The Melody

We are time travelers when notes from a certain song reach our ears.  Those notes take us back to people, places, and events.  We remember where we were, who we were with, and how those songs were sung or played for us.  In this respect, music is magic.  It is everywhere if we listen.

It whistles through the masts of "on the hard" sailboats in winter.  It splashes on the sandy shore when waves roll across the lake.  It floats from branch to branch when chickadees and cardinals call to each other in the morning.  For this reason, music is a bridge, too, between us and what surrounds us daily as well as to our past. Bravo, Little Bird! (A Paula Wiseman Book, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, February 21, 2023) written by Annie Silvestro with artwork by Ramona Kaulitzki is the heartwarming story of an old man and the bond his music makes with a bird.  Their relationship transcends death in a truly beautiful tribute to the power of music, family, and friendship.

The old man and his wife lived high on a hill.  Each
day, notes from the old man's piano drifted out the
window, down the hill, and into the valley below.

A small bird, Little Bird, heard every note.  Those notes lead her from the valley to the old man's window.  She built her nest outside that window.  Soon Little Bird joined the old man in making music.  The old man exclaimed,

Bravo, Little Bird!

Each day Little Bird would serenade the old man playing on his piano as the old woman painted next to her husband.  Before long, a boy, the couple's grandson, came for a visit.  When introduced to him, Little Bird sang a celebratory tune.

The house on the hill was filled with melodies as the grandson learned everything he could about making music from his grandfather. Little Bird warbled and the old woman hummed along.  Where do you think all this music went?  It whirled around on currents of air, winding down to the valley.

During this time, Little Bird had three babies, the boy grew bigger, and the old man grew older.  The boy played the piano in his grandfather's place as Little Bird and her babies sang.  One morning there was no music except for a single sorrow-filled note by Little Bird.  Little Bird, her babies, the boy and his grandmother simply did not have the heart for making music.

Down in the valley, a cardinal missed the music.  Traveling to the hilltop, the cardinal heard from Little Bird about what happened.  Curious from this encounter, Little Bird flew to the valley.  What she heard there, gave her an idea.  In the evening, the boy and his grandmother stepped outside, hearing a symphony of sound, all the music, all the songs, previously played by the old man.  It was enchanting!  (Who do you think made that music?)

Like your favorite pleasant place or cozy comforter, the words in this story penned by Annie Silvestro wrap around you and send your soul soaring. She uses alliterative word combinations and repeating phrases to fashion a welcoming cadence. Whenever an individual masters a musical melody, the word 


is used as praise and encouragement.  The right amount of dialogue is blended into the narrative to make the story more intimate for readers.  Here is a passage.

The old man played joyful, jolly music.
Sad, soulful music.
Beautiful, bountiful, breathtaking music.
All the while the old woman listened
and hummed as she painted beside him.

On the right side, the front of the open and matching dust jacket and book case, we see Little Bird, the boy and his grandfather.  They are enveloped in a swirl of musical notes, one of the many songs played by Grandfather on his piano.  One man, an old man, and his music reshaped the hearts of the residents of the hillside and valley.  As this image suggests, it began with Little Bird and the boy.  The title text is raised to the touch and embossed in foil.

To the left of the spine, a smaller circular illustration is placed on a canvas of palest green, almost a  cream.  It is of the boy with outstretched arms, dancing.  Little Bird's babies fly and sing around him.  The background in the circular picture is a pale green.

A sky-blue hue covers the opening and closing endpapers.  On the initial title page, Little Bird sings a melody which loops around the title text.  On the formal title page, verso and dedication pages, musical notes dip and wrap around the text.  They come from a song being played by Grandfather on his piano on the right page of the two pages.

These visuals by Ramona Kaulitzki

rendered digitally in Photoshop,

span two pages or full pages, edge to edge or surrounded by liberal amounts of white space.  They are highly animated, uplifting, and feature a merry mix of human and animal residents of the valley.  Readers will pause after page turns to notice all the delicate details.

One thing which I find comforting and intentional is the clothing worn by the old man, the old woman, and their grandson.  It does not change throughout the book.  Neither does that of the other residents in the valley.  I believe this brings the humans closer to the showcased animals who do not change their feathers or fur.

One of my many favorite illustrations is a full-page picture placed on a crisp white canvas.  Little Bird is poised at the top of the pages singing.  Notes loop from her, go around the old man playing at his piano on the right, and the old woman, painting toward the bottom of the page under Little Bird.  The old woman is painting a picture of Little Bird on a leafy branch.  Each of these individuals is content and happy.

We can never have enough hope in our lives.  Hope is held in the pages of Bravo, Little Bird! written by Annie Silvestro with illustrations by Ramona Kaulitzki.  In this title, hope is carried on the notes of shared music.  Use this book for a study on the power of music to weave stories, stories that never end.  It should have a place on your personal and professional bookshelves.

To discover more about Annie Silvestro and Ramona Kaulitzki and their other work, please access their websites by following the link attached to their names.  Annie Silvestro has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  Ramona Kaulitzki has accounts on Behance, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.  At the publisher's website, you can view the open dust jacket and multiple interior images.  At author Tara Lazar's Writing For Kids (While Raising Them), the cover was revealed. 

No comments:

Post a Comment