4.6 3
by Karlijn Stoffels

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A deeply romantic and hopeful fairy tale about the power of love and of music.

Mee was born with a great gift: the ability to sing other people's stories and heal their pain. But Mee also carries his own pain -- his failure to reach his deaf mother and heal her grief at his father's death. As he travels the country, he eases many people's sorrows, but he


A deeply romantic and hopeful fairy tale about the power of love and of music.

Mee was born with a great gift: the ability to sing other people's stories and heal their pain. But Mee also carries his own pain -- his failure to reach his deaf mother and heal her grief at his father's death. As he travels the country, he eases many people's sorrows, but he cannot connect with anyone himself.
Mitou also has a gift: spreading joy through a few notes from her accordion. When she hears about Mee--who was born on the same day she was--she knows that surely they belong together, each of them helping others through their music.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

At the "midday hour" on the same stormy day, two remarkable musicians are born in an unnamed land. Mee, the singer of dirges, can see inside a person's soul; Mitou, an accordion player, is the finest "merrymaker." Dutch author Stoffels makes an impressive American debut as she adopts the mannered language of fairy tales. Hearing of Mee, Mitou feels certain that she is destined to meet him; as she travels to find him, Mee and Mitou each encounter individuals in need of their respective services. These characters' stories, cleverly interlinked, play on timeless themes of love, loss and rejuvenation, but fold in idiosyncratic elements: a queen gives birth between courses at a banquet (her neglected child is doomed to stare nonstop at her reflection: "Somebody has to look at me.... And if nobody will, then I'll do it myself"). Stoffels's prose can be overwrought ("The sight of the waves causes me pain. Even the roar of the ocean stabs my heart"), but her characters, especially the women, have a ferocity that belies the possibly precious tone, and readers who like love stories will savor the imaginative details. Ages 12-up. (Jan.)

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Children's Literature - Denise Daley
This tender and moving story tells the tale of the Singer of Sorrows. Born to two parents who cannot not talk, Mee gets his name when the schoolmaster asks him his name and he can only respond by pounding his chest and grunting "I am me." Mee has a voice so beautiful that people stop in their tracks to listen to him. Mee's happy tunes turn to songs of sorrow, however, when first his father and then his mother pass away. Filled with grief, Mee travels the land singing his mournful songs. People begin summoning Mee when a loved one passes away because his sad but beautiful songs bring them some comfort. Far away a beautiful princess is so lonely that she spends all of her days staring into a mirror. Will the Singer of Sorrows be able to cure her of her sadness? This beautiful story is almost poetic in its telling. The reader will learn about love and life and heartbreak as they turn each page of this endearing and captivating story. Reviewer: Denise Daley
School Library Journal

Gr 5-8

The intertwined layers of this story are peeled off as the author traces the odyssey of Mee, the son of deaf mute parents. Relying on sign language as a child, he soon discovers his own musical powers to ease the pain of others, and he becomes a renowned singer of sorrows. He is filled with sadness because he could not make his mother happy after his father's death and then feels empty when she dies as well. Mee travels from funeral to funeral, from sickbed to sickbed, giving voice to people's suffering, helping them to mourn and feel contentment again. He is called upon to help a princess, perhaps too conveniently named Esperanza, who mysteriously spends her time looking in a mirror. En route to his mission, he learns about a host of unusual people, each of whom is dealing with a void in his or her life. In addition, there is Mitou, a cheerful young woman who is a singer of joy. She was born of a loveless marriage at the same time as Mee. They are destined to unite in order to help people rid themselves of sorrow and fill their lives with joy. Each of the chapters offers a well-constructed backstory for the people whom Mee hears of on his journey and could be read on their own. This Dutch import owes much to its translator, who fills the pages with vivid prose that gives the stories a cinematic quality and a lilting tone. A unique selection by a master storyteller.-Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ

Kirkus Reviews
Although born to deaf-mute parents, Mee develops a unique talent for singing. While his strange songs can calm the ocean's waves, they fail to lift his widowed mother's somber heart. To escape this memory, Mee heads east, becoming the singer of sorrows. Whether singing over the lieutenant, the farrier's wife or the sailor's sweetheart, he sees their lives and loves before him, eases their mourners' grief, yet always remains alone. Heading west in search of Mee is Mitou, a girl born on the same day into a house of ceaseless insults. Using music to protect her from the "black-word plague," she has become a traveling merrymaker. In search of this musical pair is Prince Viereg, who hopes their gifts can turn the depressed Princess Esperanza away from her mirrors and back toward the world again. Stoffels's fresh Dutch voice, rendered fluidly and beautifully in Watkinson's translation, weaves together traditional folktale elements to creates an original, haunting story of love that is magical unto itself. Heartfelt through and through. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.70(d)
1000L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 Years

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Heartsinger 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
lisslalissar More than 1 year ago
A simple story, simply told. It has the feeling of an old folktale, often told and changing slightly with each storyteller. The main characters are steadily moving toward each other throughout the book, while wonderful vignettes give us a glimpse into the lives of those they encounter and characteristics of humanity. Stoffels' language is simple, precise, and beautiful. I loved it when he described Mee, the singer of sorrows, as enabling "the consolation that is mourning." What a statement. I had to start rereading the book as soon as I reached the last page. I loved it.
robin_titan More than 1 year ago
Heartsinger is such a cute story! I have never come across a story quite like this and I gotta say I loved it. :) I kinda wish they'd make a movie out of this because it would make an adorable kid's story. Of course, this is NOT just for kids.
Mee is a cute little boy who has a gift for singing. He comes to be known as the "singer of sorrows" since he's able to make people in mourning feel better with his song. Mitou is a cute little girl who also has a gift, she can make people happy by performing lovely music.
Mee travels across the land singing for mourners, eventually he comes across Mitou. What will happen? hmmm you'll have to read Karlijn's book to find out. :D Trust me, you will thank me for telling you about this ADOWABLE (yes I spelled that with a w) little book, I say little because it's only about 134 pages long, but boy those are some great pages, story wise I mean, well the pages are pretty too hehe.
Heartsinger will make your heart sad at times, but when you're finished you will have this warm little spot in your heart because of it, it's just, it's cute okay? just read it!
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
HEARTSINGER is one of those rare books that doesn't fit the mold of one genre. Flowing more like a fairy tale, Ms. Stoffels creates a story that weaves multiple romances into one epic journey of Mee, the singer of sorrows.

Born of deaf-mute parents, Mee was always called "You," "Boy" or "You There." So when the local school master arrives to take him to school, when asked his name, he responds that he is me, and thus, "Mee" becomes his name. He excels at school, but music is his gift. He is able to create such haunting music that everyone stops to listen when they hear his song.

But after his father dies, and his mother grows ill, Mee does all he can to relieve his mother's suffering. Unable to hear his song, she nods sadly and passes away. After her death, Mee can not remain in the house that reminds him of his inability to heal his mother.

Mee sets off on a journey that takes him to many villages and distant lands. He is sought after by all as the singer of sorrows. He helps ease the pain of those in mourning. The book shares his different encounters and their sad stories.

On the same day as Mee's birth, another gifted musician, Mitou, has heard of Mee's fame and seeks him out. She is the opposite of Mee, singing of color and happiness. Traveling from the opposite direction, she is sure she will find him.

The two are then asked to travel across the water to the island kingdom. There, Princess Esperanza sits forever staring in a mirror. Denying a prince her hand in marriage, she eats, sleeps, and lives in front of her mirror. Growing up in a house where she was left to her own devices, it is up to Mee and Mitou to break the mirror's spell.

Translated into English, HEARTSINGER is a moving tale of love and loss. The intertwined stories that help tell of Mee's travels are touching and sweet. The story moves quickly, leading up to Mee's search for himself.