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Picture book cover of The Boy Who Said Wow

Beach Lane Books

(Simon & Schuster)


40 pages

Ages 3 - 8

Author: Todd Boss

   Illustrator: Rashin Kheiriyeh

Character: Ronan Mattin


" When Grandfather comes to take his grandson to a concert, Ronan is quiet as they leave the house, quiet in the car, and quiet at the concert hall. But when the performance is over and the beautiful music fades out at last, Ronan opens his mouth…and lets out a great big WOW!

Not any old WOW, but Ronan’s very first WOW! That one word fills up the hearts of Ronan’s family, the musicians, the audience, and—when the recording goes viral—the world."

Tantalizing taste:

"The darker instruments sound cool and frightening.


The lighter instruments sound warm and friendly.


Together they sound like a sky full of stars.

Now the music is done.

Everything is silent. The stars fade away.

Then Ronan's mouth opens and out comes a great, big ...

WOW! "

And something more: "This story really happened. On May 5, 2019, at Boston's Symphony Hall, a nine-year-old boy named Ronan Mattin broke the silence after a performance of Mozart's Masonic Funeral Music by the Handel and Haydn Society with a 'Wow!' that echoed throughout the hall and inspired laughter, cheers, and applause [and] was caught on a radio recording that was heard around the world."

John Cage and 4'33"



Neal Porter Books

(pub. 4.2.2024)

40 pages

Ages 4 - 8

Author: Nicholas Day

and illustrator: Chris Raschka

Character: John Cage


" One night in 1952, master pianist David Tudor took the stage in a barnlike concert hall called the Maverick. A packed audience waited with bated breath for him to start playing. Little did they know that the performance had already begun.

David was performing John Cage’s 4’33”, whose purpose is to amplify the ambient sounds of whatever venue it inhabits. That shocking first performance earned 4’33” plenty of haters; and yet the piece endures, “performed” by the smallest garage bands and the grandest symphonies alike, year after year. Its fans hear what John Cage hoped we would hear: “Nothing” is never silent, and you don’t need a creative genius, a concert hall, or even a piano to hear something worthwhile. All you have to do is stop and listen.

Tantalizing taste:

"John Cage wanted to write a piece in which people would hear how much something there was in nothing.

He wanted people to hear how much sound there is in silence.

There is always a whole world out there to hear.

There is always something to hear inside the silence.

That was what David Tudor was doing at the Maverick: he was letting the audience hear what was inside the silence."

And something more: The About John Cage section explains: "John Cage ranks among the most important American composers of the last century, but he is famous for his ideas as his music. He is famous for the questions his music asked... For Cage, the questions were always the important part, because the questions were more interesting than the answers. The questions often led to more questions, instead of answers."

Updated: Jul 9

How Francis Meilland Created a Flower of Hope for a World at War



Candlewick Press

(pub. 5.172024)

48 pages

Ages 6 - 9

Author: Barbara Carroll Roberts

   Illustrator: Bagram Ibatoulline

Character: Francis Meilland


" Francis Meilland was passionate about roses. He loved their rich perfume, their buds unfurling in the summer sun, and their petals, soft as lambs’ ears. Like his father and grandfather before him, Francis cultivated flowers on the family farm in France. In his teens, he set about grafting and experimenting, determined to create a rose no one had seen before, and as the world braced for World War II, he rushed cuttings to rose-growing friends around the globe.

Six patient years later, word reached him: his rose had not only flourished; people were calling it the Peace Rose. An ideal gift for science and history buffs and for gardeners of all ages, this life story of a special flower is also a love song to living a dream from beginning to end, through sun and through storm."

Tantalizing taste:

"Now French soldiers needed food, and because they could not eat roses, Frances and his father dug up almost all of their roses - twenty thousand rosebushes on acres and acres of land.

And burned them.

Except for one tiny patch of ground where Francis kept a few rosebushes, the Meillands would grow only vegetables on their farm."

And something more: "Today, rose experts estimate that there are more than one hundred million Peace rosebushes blooming all around the world...

Francis Meilland followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfathers, growing roses on their farm in southern France. Francis's children continued the family rose business. Today, Meilland roses are still grown - and shipped all over the world - by Francis's grandchildren."

Where to find Jeanne Walker Harvey books

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