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Symphony City

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Overview

In Symphony City, a young girl, lost in a big city, makes her way home by following the rich and vibrant music of the streets. Bursting with bright colors and narrated in lively, staccato phrases, Amy Martin's debut children's book is at once a sweeping page-turner and a book that makes you want to stop and pore over every page.

Symphony City is an exciting adventure story for children and parents who love music, art, and big imagination. As a special bonus, the dust-jacket ...

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Overview

In Symphony City, a young girl, lost in a big city, makes her way home by following the rich and vibrant music of the streets. Bursting with bright colors and narrated in lively, staccato phrases, Amy Martin's debut children's book is at once a sweeping page-turner and a book that makes you want to stop and pore over every page.

Symphony City is an exciting adventure story for children and parents who love music, art, and big imagination. As a special bonus, the dust-jacket unfolds into a giant two-sided poster, suitable for extended gazing.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A girl loses hold of her father's hand in a subway station and finds herself alone in the middle of a city. In Martin's hands, this potentially scary theme becomes a hymn to beauty. The city is filled with music: pianos sound, drums beat, and a band plays ("there is music around every corner/ it comes from the street/ and fills the sky"). The girl wanders, listening and observing ("it starts as a sprout/ and bursts into a forest"), watching and dancing ("it leaps and spins/ across the rooftops") until she finds her way safely home. Martin, in her children's book debut, delivers images of meditative calm; in each spread, blocks of translucent color fill in the background, leaving the contours of the pictures' subjects—hands playing instruments, bodies, buildings—outlined by the white space that remains. Martin succeeds in capturing a world of sound using only visual cues; lyrical yet militantly unsentimental, the book's cool appearance is reinforced by the face of the girl, whose lean features could be an adult's. Comes in a foldout dust jacket on which Martin's artwork is reproduced. All ages. (July)
From the Publisher
Winner of the 2012 Marion Vannett Ridgway Honor Award!

"Martin, in her children's book debut, delivers images of meditative calm; in each spread, blocks of translucent color fill in the background, leaving the contours of the pictures' subjects—hands playing instruments, bodies, buildings—outlined by the white space that remains. Martin succeeds in capturing a world of sound using only visual cues."
Publisher's Weekly

"Dazzling cityscapes and 19 cats to count make this a captivating read for all ages."
San Francisco Chronicle

"Amy Martin masters the use of color to denote emotion… This book will be treasured in one's family library, especially by music loving urbanites, and further, passed on for generations.… Symphony City encapsulates the emotive experience of listening to and playing music, a feat as it stands, but also demonstrates the power music wields to soothe, nurture, and even bring someone, in a sense, home."
Seattle Post-Intelligencer

School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—Beset with boredom, the needle of her record player broken, a young teen rushes off with a family member to a free concert. On the crowded subway, she gets separated and consoles herself: "I can find my own way…if I follow the sound." And she does. She finds music everywhere and overcomes her fear of navigating the city solo. The story is told visually through the gradual outpouring of color; the division of space in surprising vertical and horizontal lines, with cityscape backgrounds like blueprints; and colors layered as if silk-screened. Newsprint gray overwhelmingly marks the beginning of the girl's journey, but the scene gradually brightens with her yellow raincoat and yellow birds, a series of street musicians' red instruments, and the blue, slanting rain. The economical text is a paean to music: "It starts as a sprout and bursts into a forest…even the moon wants to listen." Visual symbols that celebrate childhood and discovery abound, like red shoes and a kite in the form of a carp. To the music of a guitar duo, the girl dances amid orbs of color and starlight before finding her way home and into joyfully relieved arms. Craftsmanship reigns in this title. A flock of birds embossed in gold flies from the back to the front of the textured orange binding, and the jacket folds out into a two-sided poster. A perfect book for music lovers and bibliophiles.—Sara Lissa Paulson, American Sign Language and English Lower School PS 347, New York City
Kirkus Reviews

On her way to a concert, a young girl loses the hand of the adult taking her. Following a trail of music through the city, she finds her way home where "the best songs love you back."

This familiar home-away-home narrative arc is set in a busy city. Coming out from the subway, the girl hears music everywhere, beginning with a flute player whose notes emerge embodied as yellow birds. Music is on street corners, floating through windows and in the natural world. Kites carry her to the rooftops, where she dances with ballerinas. Double-page spreads feature clean, stylized shapes. Gray at first, these illustrations gradually fill with color. The yellow of the child's slicker matches the birds she follows; though small, she's easy to find. Cats are everywhere. The minimal text is set in a small font, often part of the negative space on the page. This is clearly designed for sharing, not for independent reading. Adults will need to interpret the image of an empty turntable that opens the story and to provide reassurance on the scary pages where the two hands separate and the girl is lost among the faceless crowd.

This lovely tribute to the power of music to take us away and soothe our fears will likely fly over the heads of its intended audience.(Picture book. 4-7)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781936365395
  • Publisher: McSweeney's Publishing
  • Publication date: 7/19/2011
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 538,788
  • Age range: 3 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.80 (w) x 12.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Amy Martin is a Midwest-raised, Los Angeles-based illustrator. Amy has contributed work to The New York Times, 826LA, McSweeney's, Chiat|Day, Manifest Hope, Smog Design, The Advocate, the Los Angeles Times, the Detroit Free Press, and Knock Knock.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 11, 2011

    Sweet and Simple

    I found this title first at our library and after checking it out and reading it, decided to purchase copy as a gift for my son's music teacher. The graphics and colors are gorgeous! The story is simple but sweet. The author/illustrator also has a sense of humor. (Look for the names of the cats in the book at the back of the book.) I can't imagine anyone not wanting this book in their child's library. We will keep a lookout for future titles from this author, Amy Martin.

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