Award-winning biographer Elizabeth Rusch and two-time Caldecott Honor–recipient Marjorie Priceman team up to tell the inspiring story of the invention of the world’s most popular instrument: the piano.
Bartolomeo Cristofori coaxes just the right sounds from the musical instruments he makes. Some of his keyboards can play piano, light and soft; others make forte notes ring out, strong and loud, but Cristofori longs to create an instrument that can be played both soft and loud.
His talent has caught the attention of Prince Ferdinando de Medici, who wants his court to become the musical center of Italy. The prince brings Cristofori to the noisy city of Florence, where the goldsmiths’ tiny hammers whisper tink, tink and the blacksmiths’ big sledgehammers shout BANG, BANG! Could hammers be the key to the new instrument?
At last Cristofori gets his creation just right. It is called the pianoforte, for what it can do. All around the world, people young and old can play the most intricate music of their lives, thanks to Bartolomeo Cristofori’s marvelous creation: the piano.
Rusch (Electrical Wizard: How Nikola Tesla Lit Up the World) playfully weaves aural imagery throughout this engaging story of how Bartolomeo Cristofori came to invent the piano. Sounds of 17th-century Italian life abound as the instrument maker heads to the Medici court in Florence to work alongside other craftsmen: "Wool beaters thump and looms clatter clack. Ka-chunk goes the printing press." The auditory motif continues as dynamics notations headline each spread: a booming "forte (loud)" rises from a noisy harpsichord, while "pianissimo (very soft)" curls across a scene of Cristofori tuning a clavichord. Wanting an instrument that can be played either loudly or softly, he builds the pianoforte, later shortened to piano. Priceman's (Miracle on 133rd Street) bold brushstrokes and vibrant colors add energy and humor; an orange tabby cat, often comically startled awake by music, appears in most scenes. Extensive endnotes include a timeline, comparisons between the original and modern pianos, suggested listening (from Chopin to Tori Amos), and thorough discussion of the sources Rusch used. It's a spirited, informative tale that will resonate with music aficionados young and old. Ages 4 8. Author's agent: Kelly Sonnack, Andrea Brown Literary.