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Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Cardboard Piano, written and illustrated by Lynne Rae Perkins. Greenwillow, Harper, 2008. $19.50 ages 4 and up

"He lived in Russia. He was going to travel to America for the first time, and he wanted to write a new song to play when he arrived. He was so busy writing the new song that he forgot to leave time to practice. So all the way across the Atlantic Ocean, he stayed in his little room on the ship and practiced on a pretend piano that didn't even make any sound. He could hear the music in his mind."

Debbie and Tina are best friends. They do everything together and look at the world in much the same way. There are some differences but they don't seem to matter. They make tents out of bedspreads, ride bikes and dream dreams of the future. They talk about everything and share likes and dislikes. When Debbie begins piano lessons and has to practice, Tina must find things to do on her own while she waits for her friend. They wish they were both learning. When Debbie's piano teacher tells her the story of Rachmaninoff and his pretend piano Debbie is sure she has found the perfect solution. She spends hours making a cardboard piano for Tina, using saved cardboard, and much patience. She gives the piano to Tina, and begins to teach her what she is learning at her own lessons. It doesn't take long until Tina is returning it, finding that it is not much fun and she has better things to do. Debbie cannot understand how her best friend could reject her lovingly made gift.

With a bit of time to really consider the hurt she is feeling and taking even more time to try the cardboard piano herself, Debbie realizes that Tina is probably right and that their fun and friendship is much more important than the piano, special as it is. It doesn't take long for the two best pals to find something that they can learn from their old neighbor and another reason to celebrate all that is special about being best friends!

An added benefit is an enclosed DVD with animation and a reading of the story by its author. Great addition!

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