Saturday, November 14, 2020

The Lost Pianos of Siberia - a review

The Lost Pianos of Siberia

By Sophy Roberts

Grove Press, 2020


The Lost Pianos of Siberia is nonfiction with epic proportions. Spurred by a request from a Mongolian pianist and a dated photo of a piano outdoors in Siberia, British author Sophy Roberts embarked on a quest to find pianos in Siberia and document their provenance. Each of her artfully crafted sentences begs further thought or investigation—but on she goes, searching for pianos, while unearthing cultural, historical, artistic, political, and architectural details that captivate the mind. Just to consider the difficulty in transporting pianos across the frozen permafrost of Siberia in previous centuries is to bear witness to its people's love and appreciation of music. Consider that Tsar Nicholas and the entire Romanov family were transported from Moscow to Siberia, over one thousand miles, for execution, and yet, their piano was brought with them. During WWII, a later generation of Russians risked life and limb to save the Romanov's piano. Siberia's is an immensity of space, time, and misery—but also of music and endurance. To read this book and not pine to see Siberia will be a harder feat than finding the lost pianos of Siberia. 


Some facts about Siberia:
  • It comprises more than 55% of Russia's total size
  • It is roughly equal to the size of Canada
  • Its Lake Baikal is the deepest freshwater lake in the world and is about equal to the Netherlands in surface area


My copy of this book was provided by NetGalley.


Sunday, November 1, 2020

Every Second - a review

Below is my review as it appeared in the May, 2020 issue of School Library Journal.

 Every Second

By Bruno Gilbert

What on Earth Publishing

Gr 1–5—What happens in one second? More than one would think. Though a substantial 56 pages, the book consists primarily of two sentences. The narrative begins, "Every second, around the world 1 wedding is celebrated…" and continues until the summation sentence. Intriguing statistics about our world are interspersed throughout. The facts initially seem random, but they follow a loose pattern. For example, following a series of facts related to human dietary habits, readers learn the volume of human excrement and household waste produced each second (20,300 and 23,300 pounds, respectively) and the relatively paltry amount of recycling and replanting that humans do. The cartoon-style illustrations are in color but use muted tones. Gibert depicts people in a variety of shades including blue; and as illustrative statistics, they are representative rather than emotive. On one page, sand swirls in the sky above an expansive desert dwarfing the blue silhouette of a person on camelback. The text reads, "11,500 pounds of sand, carried by the wind, leave the Sahara Desert." No artwork details are included, but the colors appear porous, evoking newsprint, sponge, or screen printing. VERDICT This book will amuse and enlighten young or casual readers; more thoughtful readers will appreciate its global perspective and many ideas to ponder. 


Reprinted with permission. COPYRIGHT 2020 Library Journals, LLC. A wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 

My copy of Every Second was provided by the publisher.

Beneath the Waves - a review

As we read disturbing news accounts of dying manatees , environmental disasters caused by toxic waste, and ocean pollution on the scale of ...