The First Concert

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The First Concert
Author: Yutaka Sado
Illustrator: Kōshirō Hata
Specifications: ISBN  978-4097266716
40 pages
21.2 x 29.8 cm / 8.0 x 11.8 in (WxH)
Category: Children & YA
Publisher: Shogakukan Inc.
Tokyo, 2016
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This title represents the picture-book debut of one of Japan’s best-known orchestra conductors, Yutaka Sado, working in collaboration with the popular picture-book author and illustrator Kōshirō Hata. The book was created in the hope of promoting interest in classical music among young children.

Six-year-old Mii-chan’s father is an orchestra conductor. Their house is filled with music, and Mii-chan loves it when her father plays the flute or sings with her in the bath, but she doesn’t really know what he does at work. So she is excited when he says that once she’s in first grade, she can come to see one of his concerts, and the day finally arrives at the beginning of winter break in December. He is scheduled to direct Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

Her father must leave for the concert hall first. After the sun goes down Mii-chan and her mother set out in their best clothes. Many other concertgoers are streaming toward the entrance as they arrive. Inside, Mii-chan is amazed at the size of the auditorium and its high ceiling. Soon members of the chorus and orchestra file onto the stage, followed by Mii-chan’s father. It’s time for the music to begin.

Mii-chan watches as her father lifts his baton and the symphony begins. The first notes are delicate and barely audible. Other instruments join in and then suddenly the entire orchestra is playing. Sometimes soft and lilting, sometimes racing or booming, sometimes sharp and choppy, the music flows at her father’s beck and call. In the second movement Mii-chan smiles at the bouncy play of the violins. The third and fourth movements follow, ending with the choral finale. Mii-chan recognizes the melody from her father’s singing in the bath. The sublime music fills the hall to overflowing; when it comes to an end and her father lowers his baton, the audience explodes with applause and cries of “Bravo!” As she and her mother start for home, Mii-chan says, “Wasn’t this just the best night ever!”

The colorful and fantastical artwork that so aptly reflects the qualities of each separate movement conveys the beauty of the concert and the music to readers almost as if they were there.