April 14, 2015

Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin

by Chieri Uegaki
Illustrated by Qin Leng
Kids Can Press
32 pp.
Ages 4-8

Having recently recommended Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin to a fellow teacher-librarian looking for picture books about perseverance, and then noting the numerous book award shortlists that have included this book, I was dismayed to realized I have never reviewed this little gem on CanLit for LittleCanadians.  My bad.  This omission is solely due to my negligence and the overwhelming number of great youngCanLit books I choose to read.  Hopefully this post will put some things to right.

During their summer trip to Japan to visit her grandfather, Hana becomes enthralled with the beautiful music he makes.  As the Second Violin in a symphony orchestra, Ojiichan plays the classical pieces of Mozart and Mendelssohn and Bach, but he could also play requests for his grandchildren and recreate sounds of the natural world like crickets, raindrops, and birds.  

Upon their return home, Hana begins to take violin lessons and, though her older brothers laugh at her efforts, she is determined and even signs up to play in the school talent show.  She may practise for her parents and her dog Jojo and even for her grandfather's photo, but she still feels nervous when her name is called, following five previous violinists!  In her mind, Ojiichan's words of encouragement, "Gambarunoyo, Hana-chan", help her to do her best and consequently captivate her audience, even her brothers.
From Hana Hashimoto, Six Violin by Chieri Uegaki, illus. by Qin Leng
Chieri Uegaki's message of trying to do your best is a global one but one that too often gets lost when children are told that they're great at everything that they endeavour.  That is a disservice we commit.  While Hana is never told she's the greatest and she can do anything to which she puts her mind, she chooses to persevere.  Her achievement in the talent show is not the success of many formulaic books that would have her winning or being showered with accolades (thank you, Chieri Uegaki) but rather in challenging herself to get up on stage and make magical music with her violin.  She does this rather successfully, just as Chieri Uegaki and Qin Leng do.  Qin Leng's illustrations have that light touch that works so well with the musical nature of Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin, the Japanese cultural landscape, and the little girl with the quiet strength.  

Without going over the top myself, I can sincerely attest to the faultlessness of including Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin on lists for the 2015 USBBY Outstanding International Book List, the Cooperative Children's Book Center 2015 Choices and on shortlists for the 2014 Governor General's Award for Illustration, 2016 Shining Willow, and the 2015 Christie Harris Illustrated Book Prize among others.  It seems that everyone appreciates Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin.

I've posted KidsCanPressMovies book trailer for this lovely picture book here.

1 comment:

  1. I gave this book to my great granddaughter and she loves it!!