As I remember the events of nineteen years ago and reflect on the crises the world faces today, I find solace when I read picture books such as today’s Perfect Picture Book that reminds us of the power of creativity and the arts.
Title: KHALIDA and the Most Beautiful Song
Written & Illustrated By: Amanda Moeckel
Publisher/Date: Page Street Kids/2018
Suitable for Ages: 4-8
Themes/Topics: music, piano, creativity, determination, unscheduled moments, the power of art
Perhaps it was the twinkling of a bright star or the wings of a high-flying owl that awoke the song one night.
It was time.
Brief Synopsis: An elusive song awakens a young pianist, but she struggles to capture it as the demands of everyday life get in the way.
Links to Resources:
- Carve out some space and time to be creative, with musical instruments or art supplies;
- Try to schedule some unscheduled “me” time each day or week and let your inner artist loose;
- Read, or reread, Peter H. Reynolds’ The Dot, and join in the fun of International Dot Day 2020.
Why I Like this Book:
KHALIDA and the Most Beautiful Song is a lyrical, joyous celebration of creativity and a reminder that we need to step back from everyday tasks, schedules, and concerns to enable our creativity to flourish.
I was hooked from the opening, as the song mysteriously found young Khalida. As Moeckel notes in the opening scene, neither the song nor the reader knows why the song was awakened. But once awakened, and once it “tickled” Khalida’s “fingers and dipped into her ear”, Khalida knew that she had to recreate it on the piano, and share it with others.
I think even young children will relate to the obstacles that Khalida faces as she tries to express the creative impulse growing inside her. And I think everyone will appreciate the results of her determination as listeners “forgot everything else,” including meetings, being bullied, and a sick relative.
Moeckel rendered the illustrations in graphite, watercolor, and digitally. I especially loved how the song, depicted as graceful swirls, weave through the pages and become more colorful as Khalida performs them for an audience comprised of a diverse group of listeners.
A Note about Craft:
Moeckel begins this story not with Khalida, the over-programmed, talented pianist, but with the song that struggles to be played. By doing so, Moeckel encourages young children to think of their creative output as a character – a “thing” that needs to be out in the world. Switching the perspective in this way helps readers understand that creative individuals need to create, that society benefits when they are able to do so, and that we need to break down barriers to creativity.
I love the lyrical name, Khalida, and, because it is an Arabic name, I think this adds a multicultural layer to this beautiful story.
See a blog post about the creation and publication of this picture book at Writing and Illustrating. Note that Khalida finally plays the song in a park, where she performs it on a piano set there. In New York City, where Moeckel resides per the jacket flap, a not-for-profit, Sing for Hope, sets up artist-embellished pianos in public spaces for all to enjoy and donates pianos to city schools. Although this isn’t mentioned anywhere in the book, I’d like to think that Khalida is playing one of these pianos.
This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!
Wow, I really love this story about a girl who hears music and captures it on her piano. Great story for children who are musically inclined or who just love music! I was a pianist. Will check this one out.
I’ve read this book, and love it! Your note about the art being a character is quite interesting. I hadn’t thought of it in that way before, and you’re so spot on!