Book: The Music in Derrick’s Heart

The Music in Derrick’s Heart
by Gwendolyn Battle-Lavert, illustrated by Colin Bootma

Harmonious
Harmonica
How do you do?

Mellifluous
Melodica
Magnificent to meet you!

Bachnalian
Bandoneón
Beguile with your tune

Halcyonian
Harmonium
How did we end so soon?

Note: Nick and I recently discovered the joy of playing the harmonica. He blows in and out randomly; I try to follow along on the piano.

It’s a blast.

I think the harmonica is the universe’s gift to parents’ ears – unlike, say, beginning violin, which sounds like cats being skinned. For kiddos, the harmonica is a very rewarding instrument in that even if you have no idea what you’re doing, you still sounds good. Plus it’s a great opportunity to teach kids about cause and effect in music, i.e. loud versus soft, quick versus slow.

So imagine my surprise when I found a lovely children’s book about the harmonica – with African-American characters to boot! Derrick, an enthusiastic young boy, learns to play the harmonica from Uncle Booker T., an admittedly stock “old wise man” character. At first Derrick plays the harmonica too fast and with no connection to the music. But after the “once more with feeling” moment, he succeeds.

My favorite image in the book is Derrick falling asleep holding his harmonica. It’s like someone snuck into our home and took a picture of Nick.

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