Things That Go Away by Beatrice Alemagna (9781419744822)
Turn the pages of this picture book and watch as things steadily go away, one after the next. Bubbles float off, bird fly past, small wounds vanish with time. Steam dissipates, leaves fall and bad weather moves on. Emotions are the same with fear going away, tears drying and bad thoughts not staying. The book has a wry sense of humor as even lice moves on out of your hair, baby teeth falling out, and hair moving from one person to another. Everything is changing in the picture book, all going away but for most of it we don’t miss it afterwards.
Award-winning Italian author, Alemagna, has created a picture book with simple text but a deep premise. The sense of change is huge in this picture book and a feeling that things are not within our control either. The book is very cleverly designed, with see-through pages that show the changes happening. The items on the clear page are simple, moving from one page to the next very effectively. The background images have a modern wildness to them that is very welcome.
A dynamic picture book about things going away and constant change that children will adore as they turn the pages back and forth. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from copy provided by Abrams Books for Young Readers.
Private Lessons by Cynthia Salaysay (9781536209600)
Claire started to play the piano when her father got sick. Now after his death, it is a connection to his memory. As Claire longs to go to a school for music, she auditions to become a student of Paul Avon, a well-known and respected piano teacher in San Francisco. Her traditional Filipino mother is uncertain, but is soon charmed by Paul and manages to cover the cost of the lessons. Claire is soon practicing constantly, trying to get Paul’s approval for her playing and reach the emotional center of each piece of music. She participates in competitions and places well, but it never seems like quite enough. As Paul’s moods get more sour, he leaves Claire to watch his house while he goes on tour. When he returns though, Claire’s fantasies about playing for him and finally gaining his approval don’t work out and things turn sexual and sour between them.
Salaysay’s book is unusual and fascinating. She captures the drive and perfectionism of being a pianist who competes. She also shows the steady grooming and isolation of a young woman who is invited to the outskirts of adulthood and abused. At the same time, Salaysay also shows that sex has meaning and is nothing to be ashamed of, unless it is abusive or rape. This delicate line is kept pure throughout the book, as Claire learns about herself and what one event can do.
Salaysay’s writing is exquisite. Readers will at first be on alert about Paul and his approach, but soon will settle in just as Claire does as her playing improves. Yet throughout there are multiple points of tension for Claire and the reader. There is Claire’s falling out with her best friend, fighting with her mother, traveling to the city, and steadily becoming someone else. Yet when she is wounded and hurt, it is those same people she left behind who are there for her and help label what happened to her.
A symphony of a book, this novel encompasses music, race, sexuality and assault. Appropriate for ages 15-18.
Reviewed from ARC provided by Candlewick.