Prather’s Pick: The joy of music
This week’s picture book for children was written and illustrated by David Litchfield who lives in the United Kingdom. “The Bear, the Piano, the Dog, and the Fiddle” is a sequel to “The Bear and the Piano,” a best-selling picture book.
The leading characters of the book are Hector, an older gentleman with a white mustache, and Hugo, a small white and brown dog. Hector and Hugo have been together a long time. Hector is a fiddle-player who has performed for street audiences for years, and Hugo has always been at his side. Hector has dreamed of playing his fiddle in a big concert hall.
One day a piano-playing bear comes on the scene. Now people forget about Hector. They flock to see the bear. Hector tells Hugo that he’s too old to play the fiddle anymore. He will never play on a big concert stage. He packs his fiddle away and starts spending time watching television, listening to audiobooks, and sleeping — lots and lots of sleeping.
Meanwhile, Hugo unpacks the old fiddle and begins teaching himself how to play. He practices on the rooftop of their apartment building, and since Hector keeps the windows closed, he never hears the fiddle’s noise. That’s what it is at first — noise — and even the neighbors cover their ears.
Time passes and Hugo gets pretty good at fiddle-playing. One night Hector leaves a window open when he goes to bed. He awakens to a strange sound so he goes up to the rooftop to investigate. He finds Hugo playing “toe-tappingly, finger-clickingly, whistle-blowingly, awesome” music on the fiddle. Neighbors are enjoying the music, too.
The next morning Hector gets dressed. He forgets about television and audiobooks and sleeping. He proceeds to teach Hugo the tricks of the trade.
News of the fiddle-playing dog spreads. One day the piano-playing bear comes to see Hugo. He’s starting up Bear’s Big Band with musical animals. He wants Hugo to go on tour with them. Hector is jealous. At first he agrees that Hugo should go with the band; then he begins to have second thoughts. He says some awful things to Hugo and is immediately sorry, but it’s too late to make amends. Hugo is gone.
Hugo is the star of the show. Hector watches him on television shows. Hector misses playing the fiddle. He misses Hugo.
Then one day Bear’s Big Band comes back to the city. They are going to play at the big concert hall. There’s a heartwarming ending to the book.
“The Bear, the Piano, the Dog, and the Fiddle” is a charming book. It is published by Clarion Books (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), 2018. The hardcover book costs $17.99. You can find the book with new books in the children’s room at the Craig branch of Moffat County Libraries.
This column’s first recipe is good for a quick supper — or anytime for that matter. The recipe comes from Marcey Dyer, of Pierce, who has shared several delicious recipes with me. To save time, use leftover cooked rice when making this skillet dish.