There are some books that you have to read first before you form an opinion, and that is generally the accepted rule, you know the whole “don’t judge a book by its cover” thing. But occasionally there are books that grab you from the very start. Books that you just know are going to run away with your heart or your imagination or your emotions. I’m happy to say that today’s book was one of those books for me. I spied this on the lower shelf of a bookstore and I couldn’t walk away from it. I just had to pick it up and read it and it didn’t let me down. A delightful story about a little girl’s first recital and her exciting and magical discovery that completely calms her nerves. Take a peek at The Piano Recital by Akiko Miyakoshi, 2019.
What is it about?
First off, this book is a Japanese import, originally published in 2012 and thankfully brought here this year.
Momo is at her very first piano recital. She is nervous and whispering courage to herself, when she hears a tiny echo, or so it seems. She is startled to look down and spy a mouseling in a formal dress! The mouseling convinces Momo to briefly sneak away with her and attend the mouseling’s recital which was about to start as well! Momo follows her through a tiny door and is delightedly shocked to discover a world of mice and dazzling entertainers. All her anxious nerves dissipate with wonder and enchantment as she is thoroughly entertained and helps her little mouseling friend perform too.
Why I picked it?
The honest truth for why I picked this up and even why I adore it is absolutely and completely the art. That cover is so stunning. The limited color palette with just black, white, and red is one of my favorite palettes and is used so beautifully by Miyakoshi. Her Momo character is darling. The story itself is very sweet and enchanting, especially to 5 year olds as mine is currently obsessed with this book; but I am so very drawn to the beautiful art. Created in pencil, charcoal, and acrylic gouache, I am awestruck by Miyakoshi’s use of lighting and the wonderful texture, especially in the deep blacks. The use of the acrylic gouache is intense and gives the illusion of a smooth and almost satiny cloth. Just so, so stunning.
Aside from gushing about the art, I do love the story! Performances, recitals, and all the nerves are such a big part of being a child. It is handled so wonderfully here, allowing the enchantment of a story to transport and alter the narrative completely. Momo seems so tiny and overwhelmed and then becomes a towering, giggling giant in the world of mice. And it is extremely sweet and endearing to have her quickly forget her own nervousness to help someone smaller feel confident. It feels so true and accurate to being a child and the big and small things of childhood.
Who will love this?
Another book that will gracefully and charmingly adorn any bookshelf. From cover to cover, it doesn’t stop delighting. Gift this to anyone who loves beautiful picture books and especially someone who loves little creatures and tiny worlds.
Bonus Gift Pairings
First companion item that came to mind with this book is the somewhat infamous Maileg mice in the little boxes. I have been tempted by them many times for my girls (or myself) and they fit so well with the mouseling and other characters of the book! Another fun, slightly more expensive and larger companion piece would be an awesome toy piano, in red no less! We had one of these (in white) for several years and they are super fun, surprising in tune, and great starter pianos for learning and especially play and imaginary concerts!
Thanks for following along with my favorite books from the year.