Thursday, May 19, 2016

What's Your Piano?

Picture Book: The Bear and the Piano
Author & Illustrator: David Litchfield
Summary: This beautiful picture book involves a bear discovering a piano in a forest. 
He is intrigued by the sound the keys make and continues to experiment. Years later, he plays beautifully and a forest audience forms. The bear is happy and dreams of “strange and wonderful lands.” 
When a young girl and her father, hear the music and discover the artist, they lure him to the city to experience and play music and perform for bigger crowds. 
He is a great success, winning fame and awards and realizing all that he had hoped for in the city. But he misses the forest and his old friends. 
He returns to the forest and anxiously looks for friends to tell of his success. When the piano is not where he expects, he worries that his friends either forgot about him or were hurt that he left them. After encountering another bear, it runs away so he follows and apologizes for leaving. Then he finds the piano. 
Behind it is an altar of sorts, with memorabilia of his musical success. The bear realizes that his community of support were always watching from afar and hoping for him to fulfill his dreams.
Hanna’s Comments: I love this book! I’m even giving it to a high school graduate who is studying piano in college. There is so much here about the God-given desire we have to explore, create, and experience art and beauty. 

When you discuss this book with children or adults, don’t just focus on the bear character. Have your audience consider the perspectives of the forest audience, the father, the daughter, and others who encourage the bear’s success in the city.
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of elementary students who are learning about how human artistry is the result of God’s image in us so that we may create for joy and problem solving. You can also explore the importance of a supportive community to help us realize who we are supposed to be. Adults would enjoy this book in a small group or team who is considering ways to contribute to the Kingdom of God through artistry or support of the arts.
Original Publisher & Date: Clarion, 2015
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections: Made in God's image (Genesis 1:27); the story of Jacob who leaves home and then returns (Genesis 25-33); Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25: 14-30); As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God's varied grace (1 Peter 4:10)