Review: Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin by Chieri Uegaki

Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin
by Chieri Uegaki
Illustrations by Qin Leng
Format: Hardback / paperback / ebook
Nr of Pages: 32
Expected publication: August 1st 2014 by Kids Can Press
Synopsis:
Hana has signed up to play the violin at the talent show, even though she's only had three lessons. Her brothers predict disaster. But Hana practices and practices, inspired by her grandfather, or Ojiichan, who played the violin every day when she visited him in Japan. As Hana takes the stage, doubt is all she can hear, until she recalls her grandfather's words of encouragement, and shows the audience how beautiful music can take many forms.

Rating: 4/5

Review:
As a former student of Oriental Studies and an avid defender of variety in books, particularly children's I couldn't miss the opportunity to read  Chieri Uegaki's Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin.
Hana is a brave girl, who after three violin lessons feels ready to sign up for the talent show even though her brothers mock her. Hana's parents seem more confident and Hana let's her grandfather's words and music inspire her as she shows the reader the value of practice and dedication.
When I was little I wanted to learn to play the violin, unfortunately I couldn't but that didn't stop me from pretending I could. Unlike Hana I didn't have a relative that played the violin but I let all the great musicians fill my house with their music and the strings have always been my favourite. However when Hana  went to Japan to see her Ojiichan, he filed the house with music of his own making and she decided to learn to play like him.
I think Hana's little adventure is a fantastic example of picking up something widely known and making it yours. It's about finding that thing that makes what you do yours and not just a copy of someone else's work. Even musicians need to find their tune and the same piece played by two different people doesn't sound quite the same and Hana shows us that she can make the strings in her violin hers and not just a copy of her Ojiichan.
Also I think this was the first time I encountered a book who had both a musical theme and a foreigner character in the title. As I said at the begin of this review I support diversity in book and this means that I like to support authors that write about diverse characters. Chieri Uegaki's Hana Hashimoto is a fantastic example because we can see different cultures and have an Asian, more specifically a Japanese main character. It may sound like it isn't too much but in 2012 only 2% of children books had a main Asian Pacific American character. This puts Hana in a very select group and makes her even more special.
If Hana wasn't special enough Qin Leng's illustrations would have helped her be. The pictures that fill this book are delicate and beautiful and a fantastic addiction to the story.
The drawings of Ojiichan's house takes us to Japan while the ones of Hana's house reflect the western world. I loved the soft colours and the magical tone of the drawings. My favourite illustration was the one of Hana playing when she was in the stage of the talent show and we can see all the sounds leaving her violin. I also enjoyed seeing Ojiichan's house and Hana sleeping in a futon.
I am now waiting patiently for August to get my hands on a hardcover edition of this book. This is a book that can't be missing from my shelves.

To read more about diverse books please click here.

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