What happens when musical instruments can’t make the sounds we expect them to make? Is music still possible? An uplifting picture book based on a true story.
The schools of Philadelphia were filling up with broken violins, drums, pianos, and more, making it difficult for students to learn to play. This sparked an idea for a symphony, played entirely with the broken instruments, that would raise funds to repair the instruments themselves. Musicians young and old volunteered, and their captivating performance showed that even something broken can sing—and that great music is always possible with a bit of inventiveness and improvisation. Based on real events, this inspiring story introduces young readers to a range of instruments as it celebrates a community coming together to make a joyful, meaningful noise. More information about the nonprofit organization Broken Orchestra can be found in the back matter, including a link to an audio recording of the symphony performance.
is the author-illustrator of the Popularity Papers series and Mighty Odds trilogy. She lives in Philadelphia with her family.Gwen Millward
is the illustrator of many books for children, including Super Milly and the Super School Day
by Stephanie Clarkson. She lives in the United Kingdom.
Millward’s scribbly, digital illustrations and high-octane settings and colors have a childlike quality perfectly attuned to the subject. The sounds, rendered in black letters with yellow highlighting, dominate the designs; musical notes and bright squiggles pulsate across the pages.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
The figures in Millward’s digitally rendered illustrations reflect contemporary Philadelphia’s racial and ethnic diversity, while bold yellow highlights pop from the saturated palette, emphasizing musical instruments and onomatopoeia. Ignatow’s reiterative, sound-focused text builds toward the final symphony.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
This picture book tells how the city of Philadelphia turned its scrapped instruments into an exquisite celebration of music. Colorful, childlike artwork sets the right tempo, depicting students with varying skin colors playing musical instruments around the city. . . . A euphonious and unique look at urban renewal.
—Booklist (starred review)