Saturday 24 September 2022

Violin & Cello

Violin & Cello by Catherine Greer & Joanna Bartel & Alexander Lau (EK Books) PB HC RRP $24.95 ISBN 9 781922539274

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

In a tall apartment tower, two families live side by side. Someone plays a violin, and someone plays a cello. Both musicians practise alone. Each musician hears music and wonders who the other mystery player is in the apartment next door. Will the two musicians ever meet in person or remain a mystery to each other? The themes are friendship and music.

Catherine Greer has carefully crafted a text that flows just like music. The text is emotive and playful, the story moves along simply and beautifully. The short sentences are delightful, easy to read, and give story information. Saturday was lesson day. As the story unfolds, the reader becomes immersed in a world full of friendship and music. The language used includes musical terms. First was the allegro, zippy, and quick. Then the adagio, dreamy and slow. The characters are strong and well defined by what Greer shows rather than tells. Cello from a backpack. Violin from a case. The story builds until the reader is left waiting and wondering if the two friends will ever meet? Then one day, the violinist had an idea. I love how the beginning and end link with the apartment building. Greer has written about a unique topic that enthrals.

Joanna Bartel has captured the essence of Violin & Cello. Her stunning watercolour illustrations are full of character and heart. The movement and facial expressions of the musicians shows their love of music. The page spreads with vignettes showcase personality and the loneliness of playing alone. I love the close-up of hands as they practice. A calcio cat is introduced on the first page in the text and then Bartel brings the cat into play throughout the book. The use of whitespace allows the reader’s eye to focus and take in the full meaning of the story. The bright blue cover with the two musicians is eye catching and appealing.

Award-winning composer Alexander Lau has composed an original duet for violin and cello, ‘The Mystery Friends.’ The Score for the allegro and adagio movements of ‘The Mystery Friends’ is printed in this book. The beautiful composition is simple enough for a young cellist and violinist to play.  

Violin & Cello is a picture book for children 3-8 years that is a perfect gift for any young musician. The inclusion of the bonus duet will appeal to parents and teachers, especially music teachers. This unique book really is for anyone that loves music.

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