The Piano

By School Library Journal

At the beginning of the 20th century, young Tia enjoys roaming free in her safe African-American section of a small Southern community. When she wanders into the white section of town, she is enchanted by a new and beautiful sound coming from a large mansion. Thinking that she has come for a maid’s job, a young handyman invites the girl in and introduces her to Miss Hartwell, the elderly resident. Smitten by the music, Tia agrees to take the job and is awed by the shiny grand piano in the parlor. The two become fond of one another and Miss Hartwell agrees to teach the girl to play. Tia soothes Miss Hartwell’s arthritic fingers using a remedy learned at home, and the woman returns the favor when Tia’s hands become sore from heavy work. The bond between the two is developed naturally and never seems forced or out of place. The oil paintings reinforce the mood of the story. The street scenes and the typically furnished wealthy home of the period are depicted in detail. The characters are brought to life and Tia’s warm, open innocence is evident in the expressive artwork. This is a gentle story depicting a friendship that crosses age and racial barriers.