Ukulele Hayley

illus. by Amanda Haley. 96p. Holiday House. 2013. Tr $16.95. ISBN 978-0-8234-2863-2. ebook available. LC 2012045825.
Gr 2–4—Third-grader Hayley Godwin has a problem. She has talented older siblings and an adorable little sister, but she isn't quite sure where she fits in. That all changes when she finds a ukulele at a garage sale. The music instructor at school teaches her three basic chords and gives her lots of encouragement. Hayley thinks that playing the ukulele just may be her special talent, so she practices incessantly. All her hard work pays off when she brings down the house at the school talent show. With a new sense of confidence, she even starts a ukulele club. Finally, everything is almost perfect-until Hayley learns that the president of the school board wants to eliminate the music program. Will she be able to draw on her newfound confidence to make a difference? Recently, people such as Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder have been helping to bring the ukulele back into vogue, so this book will certainly find an audience among young music aficionados. The music teacher's comment that you only need to know three chords to play hundreds of songs will have lots of kids begging their parents to buy them ukuleles. Additionally, Hayley is a sweet and sincere character, and beginning chapter book readers who struggle with shyness will find encouragement in her successful journey to find her voice. Clean, clear writing and charming cartoon illustrations further enhance this little gem.—Amy Holland, Irondequoit Public Library, NY

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