Violin & cello by Catherine Greer. Illus. by Joanna Bartel, music by Alexander Lau

cover image

Side by side in an apartment tower live two budding musicians. He plays a violin which is kept in a violin case, while she plays a cello kept in a backpack. They practise alone, and are taught by different music teachers on Saturdays.  On one balcony sits a ginger cat while the other balcony has a lovely garden. One day the boy writes a piece of music, an allegro, and makes it into a paper plane which he throws across the balcony. She picks it up. Everyone loves listening to the music but they are still alone.Then she write a piece took and sends it back across the balcony. Her piece is an adagio.

But they are still alone.

The readers will anticipate their coming together and be happy when they finally make the move.

One day they decide to play their pieces together. They sit on their balconies and they first play the adagio, quick and zippy, then the allegro, dreamy and slow. Everyone in the street stops to listen. And the mystery friends become real friends. They visit each other, eat together and make music together.

This lovely story will creep up on the children as they see the possibilities of the two musicians, living next door to each other, but neither making the first move to share their music. All sorts of possiblities will pop into the readers’ minds; will the cat get them together, perhaps their love of the garden, what about the other neighbours, will someone not like their music, and so on. Prediction will be in the minds of the readers as the story gathers steam.

The repetition of the position of the violin and cello too will encourage thoughts about these instruments and how they need protecting, and the information about the music too will inform the readers and encourage a greater interest in what is written on a page of music. A tryout of the music offered in the story will be a must.

The illustrations reflect the children’s isolation as they practise their instruments alone. And the attention to detail will enthral readers as they pore over each page showing the detail of living in an apartment in a tower block.

And some wonderful sayings to do with music could be discussed: music is the soundtrack of your life; when words fail, music begins; music is the language of love; music can change people. Teachers' notes are also available.

Themes: Violin, Cello, Musical instruments, Music lessons, Friendship, Apartment life.

Fran Knight