Lulu's Piano Lesson

Overview

Who wants to practice the piano? Certainly not Lulu. She'd rather listen to her swing squeak, the bell on her bike ring, or the apples thump as she climbs a tree. Even her shoes play a tip-tap tune as she runs on the sidewalk.

Before she knows it, it's Friday afternoon and time for her piano lesson. Lulu's heart sinks. She hasn't practiced all week. Luckily, Lulu's teacher knows how to inspire his small student. A musician herself, Arlene Alda played the clarinet in the Houston ...

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Overview

Who wants to practice the piano? Certainly not Lulu. She'd rather listen to her swing squeak, the bell on her bike ring, or the apples thump as she climbs a tree. Even her shoes play a tip-tap tune as she runs on the sidewalk.

Before she knows it, it's Friday afternoon and time for her piano lesson. Lulu's heart sinks. She hasn't practiced all week. Luckily, Lulu's teacher knows how to inspire his small student. A musician herself, Arlene Alda played the clarinet in the Houston Symphony. She understands how one little girl's imagination and a wise teacher can help us all discover the music around us and the fun of expressing that music on the piano. Perfectly complemented by Lisa Desimini's delightful cut-paper collage and digital illustrations, Lulu's Piano Lesson is truly a memorable one.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
All week long, curly-headed Lulu keeps promising to practice the piano--but never does. Walking to her piano teacher's house, she's filled with dread: "Lulu's stomach felt like it was on a roller coaster, rising and falling with each step she took," writes Alda, who previously collaborated with Desimini on Iris Has a Virus. But Lulu's tuxedo-wearing piano teacher, Mr. Sharp, is not only completely understanding ("What fun things did you do instead?"), he also shows her how practicing can be exhilarating by having her sing along as she plays "Old MacDonald," substituting the sounds of the past week's activities (the squeak of the swing set, the ring of a bicycle's bell) for the song's animal noises. Weighted down by the text's literalness, life lessons, and overworked conceits, Desimini's often dreamlike cut-paper illustrations struggle to give the narrative some vividness. But the text and pictures don't coalesce into much of a story, and Lulu, whose Orphan Annie 'do appears to be fashioned from a photo of real human hair, never rises above a narrative prop. Ages 4-7. (Aug.)
Publishers Weekly
All week long, curly-headed Lulu keeps promising to practice the piano--but never does. Walking to her piano teacher's house, she's filled with dread: "Lulu's stomach felt like it was on a roller coaster, rising and falling with each step she took," writes Alda, who previously collaborated with Desimini on Iris Has a Virus. But Lulu's tuxedo-wearing piano teacher, Mr. Sharp, is not only completely understanding ("What fun things did you do instead?"), he also shows her how practicing can be exhilarating by having her sing along as she plays "Old MacDonald," substituting the sounds of the past week's activities (the squeak of the swing set, the ring of a bicycle's bell) for the song's animal noises. Weighted down by the text's literalness, life lessons, and overworked conceits, Desimini's often dreamlike cut-paper illustrations struggle to give the narrative some vividness. But the text and pictures don't coalesce into much of a story, and Lulu, whose Orphan Annie 'do appears to be fashioned from a photo of real human hair, never rises above a narrative prop. Ages 4–7. (Aug.)
Children's Literature - Danielle Williams
Many children are required to take music lessons of one sort or another; in Lulu's case, she takes piano lessons from a neighbor. Lulu is tasked with practicing "Old MacDonald" throughout the week, but each day she is too preoccupied with playing to practice the piano. Each day her mother reminds her to practice, and each day Lulu responds she will practice later. Each day passes with a lyrical repetition of the day before, reminiscent of the tune that Lulu is supposed to be practicing, and emphasizing the music that Lulu finds in her daily activities. But the end of the week comes and Lulu feels sick from the knowledge that she did not practice her song at all through the week. Her teacher, Mr. Sharp, quickly puts her mind at ease when he asks her what she did instead of practice and she is reminded of the music she heard each day. Lulu finds that it is not so hard to want to practice the next week when she remembers the music she hears in everyday things. The illustrations are colorful and simple and serve to emphasize the time Lulu spends playing rather than practicing her lessons, but also help to emphasize the music Lulu hears in everyday things. Children will enjoy following along when this book is read to them aloud. Reviewer: Danielle Williams
School Library Journal
Gr 3—Readers meet Lulu as she leaves the home of her piano teacher, Mr. Sharp, after her weekly lesson. They then spend the rest of the week with her, witnessing each day's excuse to not practice "Old MacDonald." On Monday, she'd rather soar on squeaking swings; on Tuesday and Wednesday, she rides her bike and plays in the branches of an apple tree; on rainy Thursday, she stays indoors and plays with stuffed animals. By the time Friday arrives, Lulu hasn't practiced at all and dreads her lesson. She admits her lapse to Mr. Sharp and he asks her to describe all the things she did instead. She describes the sounds associated with the fun times and soon she is singing about her week to the tune of "Old MacDonald." Relaxed, she sits down at the piano, plays her lesson, and makes up new words to the familiar song. Lulu dances all the way home, imagining an orchestra playing her song. Many readers will identify with the young protagonist who, despite good intentions, fails to find time to practice her music. The adults in Lulu's life are sympathetic and do not force the issue. Alda's text is nicely paced, and Desimini's cheery and inviting, jewel-toned, mixed-media collages provide a playful, active accompaniment. Young musicians, parents, and teachers will appreciate this compassionate book about the connections between practice and play.—Shawn Brommer, South Central Library System, Madison, WI
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780887769306
  • Publisher: Tundra
  • Publication date: 8/10/2010
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 460,448
  • Age range: 4 - 6 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.20 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

ARLENE ALDA is an award-winning photographer and writer whose work has appeared in numerous galleries as well as in Life, Vogue, and People magazines. She is the author of fourteen children's books, including Iris Has a Virus, illustrated by Lisa Desimini. Her photographs are featured in 97 Orchard Street, New York, written by Linda Granfield. She both wrote and provided the photographs for Hello, Good-bye; Here a Face, There a Face; Did You Say Pears?; and The Book of ZZZs. A native New Yorker, Arlene Alda lives on Long Island with her husband, actor Alan Alda.

LISA DESIMINI, a graduate of the School of Visual Arts in New York City, has written and illustrated many award-winning books for children, including My House, a New York Times Best Illustrated Book of the Year; I Am Running Away, a Bologna Book Fair Honor Book; Love Letters, a Publishers Weekly Best Picture Book of the Year and a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year; and the critically acclaimed Iris Has a Virus, written by Arlene Alda. Lisa Desimini and her husband divide their time between New York City and Northport.

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