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Author: Alison McGhee

Illustrator: Scott Menchin

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Publisher: Candlewick Press,

Material: hard cover

Summary: A young girl is getting ready for her first piano recital. She has been practicing - like all of the famous composers. She interprets her music - just like all the great piano players do. She has put on all of her lucky gear. She even rehearsed her bows. Now, at last, her name is called and she goes onto the stage. When she cannot remember her recital piece, she does what all great artists do: improvise. This picture book offers a story of overcoming stage fright.

Type of Reading: bedtime story, playtime reading, read aloud book, learning to read

Recommended Age: read together: 3 to 8; read yourself: 7 to 9

Interest Level: 4 to 9

Reading Level: 2.4

Age of Child: Read with and by a 7-year-old girl.

Young Reader Reaction: Our daughter immediately related to the little girl. The first time through she was transfixed, no doubt because she had also experienced stage fright. At the end, she recounted her own story.

Adult Reader Reaction: This is a great book for parents of any performer, even kids who play sports. Stage fright isn't limited to just the stage. There are idea clouds with great images (cucumber playing piano) that offer some humor. There is an illustration from the stage where the reader sees all the faces in the crowd. It is a simple presentation, but it gets the point across. We liked how the little girl went with what she knew and did it with flair.

Pros: Any child who has performed for an audience (or is about to perform for an audience) will relate to this story.

Cons: None, really.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow. This is a nice book, but one that you'll likely read only a few times to help out a budding performer.


Educational Themes: This story is helpful in describing the range of emotions you can go through before a performance. Although this story is self-contained, it does create the opportunity to talk about stage fright and ways to overcome it.

Literary Categories: Fiction - picture book, music, emotions

Date(s) Reviewed: June 2009

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