Review of The Girl Who Heard the Music, by Marni Fogelson with Mahani Teave, pictures by Marta Álvarez Miguéns

The Girl Who Heard the Music

How One Pianist and 85,000 Bottles and Cans Brought Hope New Hope to an Island

words by Marni Fogelson
with Mahani Teave
pictures by Marta Álvarez Miguéns

Sourcebooks, 2023. 36 pages.
Review written May 1, 2023, from a library book.
Starred Review

This picture book biography tells the story of Mahani Teave, a girl from Rapa Nui, one of the most remote inhabited islands on earth. They didn’t even have a piano on the island when she was born, but when Mahani was nine, a retired music teacher moved to Rapa Nui with a piano, and Mahani was hooked. She got further lessons after the teacher left, but had to go off the island for more training. She became a concert pianist who performed all over the world.

But an especially inspiring part of her story was that she co-founded a nonprofit which built a music school on the island — built of trash from the nearby ocean!

Although the Rapa Nui School of Music and the Arts was made with tons of trash, it’s powered by nature! Solar panels turn energy from the sun into electricity, and giant barrels hold rainwater for gardens.

So this book is not only the story of a child prodigy, but also a story of fighting for the environment. Rapa Nui is near a place where ocean currents bring trash thrown into the water elsewhere. As well as helping with that mess, the island is working toward being sustainable and waste-free by 2030.

It all adds up to an interesting and inspiring story of a kid who started with a love of music and grew up to help her people and her home.

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