Saturday, January 10, 2015

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 266

Picture Book: Sing to the Stars

Author: Mary Brigid Barrett

Illustrator: Sandra Speidel

Summary: Ephram, a student of the violin, often encounters Mr. Washington on his way to and from his lesson. He is amazed that blind Mr. Washington always knows who he is and whether his lesson went well. When Mr. Washington learns that it is Ephram’s music he has heard at night from the darkness of the roof, he encourages him to play at an open mike event in the park. Ephram’s fear of performing is evident, but Mr. Washington encourages him by saying, “Music speaks best when someone listens.” Later, Ephram learns that Mr. Washington was an amazing pianist before the terrible accident that blinded him and killed his little girl. Knowing this, Ephram decides to try to perform. He invites Mr. Washington to play with him, but Mr. Washington confesses that he is not sure his hands could play anymore and he doesn’t want to find out. During the open-mike performances, there is a power outage. Ephram sees this as an opportunity to play in the dark, like on the roof, accompanied by Mr. Washington who is always in the dark. They choose well-known hymns like “Amazing Grace.” The story ends with these words, ”The hum of the crowd fades, and in the darkness the music sings to the stars.”

Hanna’s Comments: There are many potential themes in this inspiring story. Upon reading it, I easily saw its message of sharing your talents and overcoming fears. However, here I’m going to focus on the idea of encouragement. The story begins with Mr. Washington affirming and encouraging young Ephram; it ends with Ephram not only encouraging his older friend to reclaim his artistry, but he offers him a context in which he will likely be successful, a sort of hospitality. Faithful friendship is often about affirmation of God’s gifts, encouragement to use those gifts, and offering hospitality so that those gifts can be shared.    

Publisher & Date of Publication: Little, Brown, & Co., 1994

Age & Grade Appropriateness: 5 and up, K and up

# of Pages: 32

Available in Spanish? Not at present

Formats other than Book: An amateur video is available at

PBT Category: Pre 2K

PBT Topics this Book Connects with: abilities, acceptance, action, adaptation/assimilation, affirmation, art, bonds/connections, bravery/courage, brokenness, call/calling/vocation, choir/music/singing/songs, communication, community, darkness/evening/night, disabilities/handicaps/limitations, encouragement, fear, gifts/talents, God’s will, hiding/isolation, insecurity, intercession, joy, language/literacy/reading, listening, loss of faith, neighbors, noise/sounds/voice, participation, partners/teamwork, passion, power, renewal/restoration, resurrection, risking, shyness, tragedy

Scripture Connections: Be strong and courageous. Don’t be frightened or dismayed for the Lord God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9); I lift up my eyes to the hills… My help comes from the Lord (Psalm 121:1); the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30); God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7); any scripture story where one character encourages another such as Jonathan & David or Barnabus & Paul

Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of children in your faith community who are learning about the importance of encouraging others or sharing talents. 

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