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Whenever Marcolino ditches piano practice, Mom pulls out her secret weapon: guilt. "When I was your age, I played for hours," she says wistfully, adding that her own aspirations to be a grand pianist were never realized. "After you were born, I didn't have time to practice," she sighs. That's enough to send a chastened Marcolino back to the ivories "for her" even though he'd much rather be "a grand Formula One racer or a grand firefighter" or any number of other grand professions. But Marcolino's sympathetic grandfather has a secret weapon of his own: a box of old photographs that reveal Mom was hardly the pianist she claimed to be-in fact, this family drama turns out to be a case of like mother, like son. "Mom's face turns red, as if a teacher were asking her why her homework wasn't done," twits Cali (I Can't Wait). The sharp text finds a soulmate in French illustrator Heliot's offbeat, angular ink drawings, arranged in compositions that take advantage of the book's short, horizontal format. A jaunty mélange of naïf stylings and retro graphic design references (Grandfather looks like he stepped out of a vintage poster), the pictures also brim with goofy detailing, like Marcolino's extreme geometric version of a pompadour. It all adds up to a highly satisfying uncovering of a parent's feet of clay. Ages 6-8. (July)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Marcolino hates practicing scales, but does so because his mother wants him to live out her dream of becoming a grand pianist. His grandpa rescues him from this dreaded fate by reminding Mom how much she disliked playing the piano as a child and helping Marcolino choose a more appealing instrument-the tuba. Children suffering through a similar scenario may identify with the plot, but the ultra-mod style of Heliot's crisp color illustrations tends to overpower the story. Marcolino has overlong, stiff bangs and his mother is a tall, skinny woman with pointy breasts. Young children can more easily identify with Sharon Jennings's turtle in Franklin's Music Lessons (Kids Can, 2004). Beginning readers will find that Claudia Mills's Gus and Grandpa and the Piano Lesson (Farrar, 2004) is a more loving and realistic story.
—Martha SimpsonCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.