Little Rat Make Music by Monika Bang-Campbell illustrated by Molly Bang Age: Beginning Reader (K-3rd grade) Publisher: Harcourt Books, 2007 ISBN: 9780152053055 Find this book at your local library
Little Rat was born into a musical family. Her father plays piano and her mother sings every chance she gets. When Little Rat signs up for violin lessons one day, she learns that listening to music, and making music are very different things. Little Rat learns that through determination and practice, she can make beautiful sounds with her violin.
Along with the beautiful illustrations by Molly Bang, I love how this book portrays Little Rat’s worries, frustration and procrastination when it comes to learning the violin. Although she wants to make music as beautiful as what she hears in concert halls, she doesn’t put in the time practicing at home. She then gets frustrated when she can’t play properly when she does try. I think one of my favorite lines in the book is shortly after Little Rat throws a tantrum after a practice session:
“When I play it wrong over and over, I feel like I am going to explode.” “I know it is difficult, ” said Mama Rat, “but yelling and slamming doors does not help. No more tantrums. Tantrums are not music. They hurt our ears.”
With help from a tutor and a little motivational push via a recital, Little Rat does finally get herself together to learn a song and play it well in front of a large audience. ALthough this book is about learning to play the violin, I think the lessons can be carried over into learning any new skill that requires practice and patience. I would recommend this book for older readers, 1st grade and up, because of language, and plot. The illustrations are more supplemental rather than explanatory to the storyline. Some pages are full color, some pages have a white background with smaller images. The emotions portrayed on Little Rat’s face during the course of the book are priceless.