by Mary Lyn Ray, Bobbie Henba

In a pumpkin-colored house between the railroad and Ragged Mountain lives a woman who has been there for eighty years.  See more details below


In a pumpkin-colored house between the railroad and Ragged Mountain lives a woman who has been there for eighty years.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
An octagenarian's love of piano music is traced back to her childhood memories in this tender, nostalgic picture book. As a girl growing up in New Hampshire, Anna could memorize pieces of music and play them by ear. Her parents recognized her talent and encouraged her by sending her into Boston for weekly piano lessons. So enthralled was Anna by playing and practicing that her brothers and sisters took to calling her ``Pianna.'' Conveyed much like an admiring transcribed interview, this tribute to a colorful member of a New England community avoids sentimentality and excess in its portrayal of a child's passion. Ray's ( Pumpkins ) well-chosen glimpses of a bygone world should pique the interest of young readers. In her picture book debut, Henba's acrylic paintings manage to saturate the pages with color while also demonstrating a delicate touch. Homey period details and clothing, rendered in a style reminiscent of Barbara Cooney's, provide further historical and aesthetic texture. Even for those who have never tickled the ivories, this selection is music to the ears. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-Ray takes readers on a nostalgic journey to turn-of-the-century rural New Hampshire, where Anna's parents realize that their seven-year-old daughter has a gift for music. They buy her a piano, and she makes weekly train trips into Boston-107 miles away-to take lessons. She practices constantly-so much so that her family nicknames her ``Pianna.'' When she marries at age 17, she begins to raise her family and the lessons stop, but she continues to play-at churches, for the Grange, but mostly for herself. As the story ends, her husband has died and her children have grown up and moved away, but she still has her piano and still lives in the house her father built so long ago. In fact, ``She may be playing now.'' Anna never achieves fame because of her talent; she simply nurtures it so that it brings her a lifetime of personal pleasure-not a bad message in our overly competitive society. Henba's soft acrylic illustrations, somewhat reminiscent of those in Barbara Cooney's Miss Rumphius (Viking, 1982), give a definite sense of time and place to the story and complement the easy flow of the text. The book exudes familial warmth and a love of the beauty of music.-Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, Wheeler School, Providence, RI
Hazel Rochman
Set in New England at the turn of the century, this brightly detailed picture book is in some ways reminiscent of Barbara Cooney's work, with an authentic sense of the period. As Anna looks back on her life in the house where she was born 80 years ago, her memories focus on her piano: how she first got her parents to buy her the instrument the summer she was seven; how she traveled to Boston once a week for lessons; how she practiced and practiced until the other kids called her Pianna. Her love of music stayed with her through her happy marriage ("She played with a baby on her lap. . . . She played while the bread rose, while the stove heated, while the cow grazed"). Now she's alone. But she has her piano. The period detail is a bit much at times, especially since the memory is all on the same pleasant note, but the power of music and the power of place are strongly felt.

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Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st ed
Product dimensions:
11.31(w) x 8.79(h) x 0.43(d)
530L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

MARY LYN RAY has written many acclaimed books for children, including A Violin for Elva, illustrated by Tricia Tusa; New York Times best-seller Stars , illustrated by Marla Frazee; Pumpkins , illustrated by Barry Root; and Red Rubber Boot Day and Mud , both illustrated by Lauren Stringer. She lives in South Danbury, New Hampshire. Visit www.marylynray.com.

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