Tia loves music. But as a young African-American girl living in the deep South in the early 1900s, she has neither the opportunity nor the means to pursue her dream of creating it. One day, as she passes a house in the "white" part of town, she hears a lovely new kind of music, different from the blues guitar she's grown up with the sweet notes of a piano. "It made Tia think of castles, mountains, and deep snow. The music took her away from the hot, dry town."Tia so longs to hear more of it that she takes a job as a maid for the kind, elderly Miss Hartwell who lives in that music-filled house. William Miller's wise and gentle words convey to the reader the power of music to soothe the human soul and transport us from our mundane lives to the land of our dreams. While listening to the piano's melodies, Tia forgets her lot in life and escapes from her dreary, work-weary world. Music treats everyone the same and cannot distinguish between colors or ages. It treats everyone who embraces it like royalty.
Susan Keeter's wonderful illustrations in mostly cool pastel colors seem to blend and soften the contrast between the "white world" and the "black world." The most memorable image is that of Miss Hartwell's white hands and Tia's black ones resting together, in harmony, on the white and black piano keys. The illustrations truly bring this charming story to life.
Miller has given us a touching tale of how music transcends all social barriers and forms connections between very different people. Tia and Miss Hartwell have little else in common besides a love for music, yet somehow that's enough to form a true friendship.
Carolyn Cates lives and writes in Nashville.