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Changing Tunes

Changing Tunes

4.0 1
by Donna Jo Napoli, Donna Jo Napoli (Illustrator)

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EileenÆs father has moved out. And he has taken the pianoùwhich Eileen had always thought of as the family piano. To Eileen, a gifted musician, the loss of both is tremendous. Suddenly, EileenÆs life has changed, even though none of this was of her making or in her control. To continue with her music, she has to practice on an ancient beat-up instrument in the school


EileenÆs father has moved out. And he has taken the pianoùwhich Eileen had always thought of as the family piano. To Eileen, a gifted musician, the loss of both is tremendous. Suddenly, EileenÆs life has changed, even though none of this was of her making or in her control. To continue with her music, she has to practice on an ancient beat-up instrument in the school auditorium. And she comes home to an empty house because her mother has had to take a job. Locked into herself by anger, shame, and betrayal, she isnÆt able to tell anyone about her feelings. How Eileen begins the hard job of reconciling with the reality of her new life makes a touching and involving novel. Donna Jo Napoli has created a character that young readers can identify and sympathize with as she begins to change the tunes that together compose her life.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The talented Napoli (Stones in Water; Zel) shifts to a decidedly minor key for this middle-grade novel. Fifth-grader Eileen feels devastated when her father moves out, but she's in for another nasty surprise: he has taken the family piano with him. Eileen won second place in a county piano competition the year before; why neither parent would have discussed the removal of the piano with her ahead of time is the first--but not last--strain on credibility. The plot swings on familiar hinges. First, Eileen hides the news of her parents' separation from her best friend. Second, friendship with the kindly school custodian buoys her after her mother arranges for her to practice on the piano in the school auditorium ("Rickety, old, awful thing," she thinks sullenly). Third, she finds solace with an elderly neighbor, who begins to care for a newly adopted grandchild shortly after Eileen's dad takes the piano. And, none too surprisingly, a heart-to-heart conversation with her father softens her harsh judgment of him. The writing is competent, but readers who want a more convincing story about musicianship should hold out for Virginia Euwer Wolff's The Mozart Season; those who want a more searching look at the effects of divorce should try Paula Danziger's Amber Brown books. Ages 8-11. (June)
Ten-year-old Ellen struggles with an impending divorce. Dad has moved out of the house, and Ellen does not know whether to live with her mother or father. Moreover, Dad moved out with her prized possession—her piano. Her parents are portrayed as not mean or vindictive, but loving parents who believe that they are acting in the best interests of their only child, Ellen. Still, Ellen, is left frustrated, afraid, and bitter. She rails against her mother while simultaneously hiding her parents' divorce from her best friend. The calming influences in Ellen's life are Eileen, a new-found friend who practices the piano in the school auditorium and a kindly custodian, Mr. Poole. This is a good read for pre-teens. Genre: Divorce, Music 2000, Puffin Books, 130p
Children's Literature - Judy Chernak
Grandmother (Oma is the German term) seems to have a visceral dislike of dogs even before Alice brings Bobo home from the shelter. The name she suggests for the new pet is, "Trouble, Bother and Nuisance!" Things do not improve when Bobo chooses Oma's hand-made red potholder as a nibbling toy. Obedience school is the answer for family peace-but Bobo isn't such a good student and continues to cause Oma to shriek "Du lieber Himmel!" and "Dreckhund!"-words which we wouldn't exactly wish to hear our small ones repeating but do express her animosity. In the end, Oma sees which way the wind blows and pitches in with the training process, so Bobo earns her obedience certificate, and a staunch friend besides. 1998 (orig.
It has been two weeks since Eileen's father left, taking his piano with him. Eileen always found solace in practicing the piano but now that it is gone, what will she do? It was hers too. The house is empty, her mother is working full time and it seems like changes are happening in her life much too fast. Although her mother makes arrangements for Eileen to practice at school she finds that she just can't bring herself to tell anyone what happened—not even her best friend Stephanie. What excuses can she give for not coming right home after school? And how on earth can she forgive her parents for what they have done to her? A sympathetic janitor who listens to her and encourages her, visits with her dad, spending time with a grandmotherly neighbor and talking with her outgoing and funny friend Stephanie help Eileen come to terms with the changes in her life and move on. For those younger teens not familiar with Donna Jo Napoli this will be a great book to introduce her. It's a good solid purchase for public and school libraries. YAs who are faced with divorce and feel vulnerable should be able to relate to this book. KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 1998, Penguin/Puffin, 130p, 20cm, 98-10034, $4.99. Ages 13 to 15. Reviewer: Jamie Lyn Weaver; YA Libn., Geneva P.L., Geneva, IL, September 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 5)
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-Eileen's world is drastically altered by her parents' separation and impending divorce. Arriving home after school one day, the gifted 10-year-old musician discovers all of her father's belongings are gone--including the beloved piano that she thought belonged to the whole family. Her mother then arranges for her to practice on the old piano in the school auditorium. Adjustment is hard, and made even more difficult because Eileen is unwilling to tell her best friend, Stephanie, about her family situation. When Mr. Poole, the school janitor and a fellow music lover, listens to her play, somehow her problems seem more bearable. Music, Mr. Poole, and when given a chance, Stephanie, gradually ease Eileen into the changes required. Eileen strongly resembles many children in her reluctance to see the world from any viewpoint but her own. Her struggles are quietly portrayed and the situation is uncomplicated by other issues, although there is a nice counterpoint made by an elderly neighbor caring for a new grandchild. Perhaps this simplicity increases the desire for a stronger sense of the music that Eileen obviously feels is so important. Readers who are true music lovers will find the descriptions of its restorative power inadequate and there may not be enough plot to hold those who are not. Carol Fenner's Yolanda's Genius (McElderry, 1995) gives a better sense of the solace of music; Beverly Cleary's Dear Mr. Henshaw (Morrow, 1983) and Mavis Jukes's hilariously poignant Getting Even (Knopf, 1988) are better at showing the adjustments necessary when divorce occurs.-Carol A. Edwards, Minneapolis Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
A ten-year-old girl confronts the reality of her parents' divorce in this bittersweet novel from Napoli (For the Love of Venice, p. 584, etc.). In the wake of her parents' recent separation, Eileen is prepared for her father's things to be gone, but is stunned to discover the piano missing as well. This is just the latest change: With her mother working full-time, Eileen arrives home after school to an empty house, and sees her father only every other weekend. In spite of the riot of anger and sadness within her, Eileen just can't bring herself to tell her best friend, Stephanie, that her parents have split up. The only thing that seems to be the same, the one constant in Eileen's chaotic experience, is her piano practice sessions, which now take place in the auditorium after school. During these sessions, Eileen befriends the kindly janitor, Mr. Poole, who tells Eileen that even though his family was poor, he enjoyed playing the pianoþand the one song he knewþwhen he was a kid. Eileen realizes that she can't control the family she was born into. Eventually, she starts to work out the anger and pain she feels toward her parents, and finally shares the truth with an extremely sympathetic Stephanie. Although the structure of the novel, shifting between piano practice and the rest of Eileen's life, seems a bit inelegant and contrived, Napoli succeeds in creating a reassuringly bewildered character in Eileen. (Fiction. 10- 12)

Product Details

Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.08(w) x 7.78(h) x 0.45(d)
450L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Donna Jo Napoli is the author of many books for children and young adults includingThe Magic Circle, Zel, and Stones in Water. She has won numerous awards, including the Golden Kite Award and the Sydney Taylor Award for Stones in Water. She lives in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania.

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Changing Tunes 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Changing Tunes was a very good book. I enjoyed reading this book about a young girl dealing with her parents getting a divorce and the changes that she has to go through to accept what is going on in her family.Eileen, the main person in the book has to grow up and learn how to accept the changes going on in her life.