You Can Do It, Noisy Nora!

Viking. Apr. 2020. 32p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781101999233.
PreS-Gr 1–Nora, inspired by the beautiful melody wafting from her neighbor’s violin, wants to learn to play the instrument herself. Anticipating weeks of violin squawks and screeches, however, her family tries to dissuade her. Dad suggests a xylophone, and mom declares “The banjo...would surely be worthwhile.” Her sister Kate also nixes the “screeching violin” idea. But Nora wins out, and under Mrs. Yamamoto’s tutelage, starts practicing. Days of “twang[s], “shriek[s],” and “squeak[s]” ensue. Her supportive parents suggest Nora practice outdoors, Kate dons earmuffs, and even the cockatoo needs a heavy towel over its cage to keep out the noise. But Nora perseveres. Finally, the big day for which she has been practicing all month arrives, and she plays “Happy Birthday” (musical notation appears on the final page) for her mom, “every note...true and strong.” Wells’s familiar watercolor illustrations appear within thinly framed rectangles on white ground and occasionally stretch across double pages. Her mouse characters are full of expression, from the family’s open-mouthed anticipation as Mrs. Yamamoto unveils Nora’s violin to their paws-over-ears eye rolls as she practices. Seven humorous vignettes depict Nora at her daily practice, leg sometimes raised in effort, oblivious to the unpleasant sounds coming from her violin.
VERDICT Nora’s fans will enjoy this offering, and readers who have experienced difficulty learning something new will be inspired by her successful efforts.

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