The Cello of Mr.O (Picture Puffin)

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9780142401743: The Cello of Mr.O (Picture Puffin)
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A child's city, struggling to survive the ravages of war, looks forward to Wednesdays at 4 o'clock when the relief truck comes bearing supplies, but when the truck is bombed the people lose hope, until the unfriendly Mr. O takes over and sits in the square every day at 4 o'clock with his cello, buoying the spirits of the town with his melodies and courage. Reprint.

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From Publishers Weekly:

"At night, from my window, I can see the white trails of tracer fire and the orange flash of mortars in the sky. I pretend I am watching shooting stars and meteors," says the nameless girl protagonist of Cutler's (The Song of the Molimo) moving and, sadly, timely story of the healing power of music in wartime. With winter approaching, food scarce and her father off fighting, the high point of the girl's week is Wednesday, when the relief truck arrives and the community gathers. Most days, she sits with the other children under the stairs until their high energy levels send them running through the halls, where they taunt an unsociable musician named Mr. O. As the girl stands outside his apartment, she remembers how her father described the craftsmanship of Mr. O's cello and the command performances of the cellist's youth. When a rocket destroys the relief truck, Mr. O surprises the children by courageously playing music in the middle of the square and lifting their spirits. Couch's (Wild Child, reviewed above) soft-focus watercolors in burnished shades of gold, copper and fiery red have a dreamlike quality that effectively contrast with the unsentimental narration. He mixes realistic scenes of the war-torn landscape with a surreal sense of war's intrusion on this child's life. While more details about the mysterious Mr. O might have made his change of heart more believable, Cutler's focus on turning calamity on its head will likely have an uplifting effect on readers young and old. Ages 5-9. (Sept.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal:

Grade 1-4-In poetic prose, a young girl describes what it is like to live in a city ravaged by war. Schools are closed, electricity and telephone service is out, and the only consolation is the arrival each Wednesday of the relief truck bringing food and supplies. To pass time, the children play together in the hallways. When they make too much noise, an elderly musician, Mr. O, opens his apartment door and scolds them. No one, not even the adults, talks to Mr. O, who keeps to himself. But the week after the relief truck is bombed, the old man takes his cello into the courtyard and plays for all of the frightened, hungry people. The music is described as something "which feeds us as truly as the supplies brought by the truck did." Later, when the cello is destroyed by more shelling, the little girl wonders, "What will feed us now?" These and a few other didactic statements, jarringly atypical of any child, mar an otherwise lovely story. Couch's watercolor illustrations, however, are absolute perfection. In warm earth tones, the artist has captured both the emotion and the details of civilian life under siege. While the war is not named, readers may infer a reference to the Balkan conflict. In spite of a little excess verbiage, this is an inspiring story.
Jackie Hechtkopf, University of Maryland, College Park
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780525461197: The Cello of Mr. O

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ISBN 10:  0525461191 ISBN 13:  9780525461197
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile, 1999
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