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The Piano Recital book cover

The Piano Recital

By Akiko Miyakoshi. Kids Can Press, 2019. 32 pages, $16.99.
Jessica Ho

Momo is at her first piano recital. As her turn on stage draws closer, she tries to calm her nerves – “I’ll be okay, I’ll be okay.” Curiously, a mouse appears with an invitation to a different recital. Momo follows her. As she watches this recital, one incredible mouse performance after another, her worries melt away. When a nervous mouse approaches Momo before going on stage to sing, Momo offers to accompany her on piano.

An excellent read-aloud with simple language and expressive illustrations, this story can spark discussions on nervousness and anxiety in young learners. Through these discussions, Kindergarten students can work to “develop empathy for others and acknowledge and respond to each other’s feelings,” an important piece of the self-regulation and well-being portion of the Kindergarten program. Momo is relatable to young learners in her desire to do well while feeling some pressure. As she awaits her turn on stage, her “heart is racing” and she “holds on tightly to her sheet music.” These descriptions help students imagine and relate to Momo’s experience.

Given the simple cover illustration, the liveliness of the illustrations within the book’s pages will be a pleasant surprise for readers.

The colours and facial expressions in the illustrations show learners the impact of emphasis and emotion in visual art. Primary students can reflect on the use of elements and principles of design to communicate meaning. The playful depictions of the mouse recital create a whimsical fantasy world for the reader, and students will enjoy examining the drawings of the mice during their own independent read-through.

The Piano Recital was first published in Japanese and then translated to English. Akiko Miyakoshi is both the author and the illustrator of this book. The Piano Recital is a wonderful addition to a primary bookshelf, especially to increase Asian representation in the classroom library. As elementary educators working toward anti-racist pedagogy, stories like Momo’s are important to share. This story can remind its readers that it is normal for Asian kids, as it is for all kids, to worry, wonder and explore. All students benefit from seeing Asian children represented in stories of magic and whimsy.

Jessica Ho is a member of Ottawa Carleton Occasional Teacher Local.