Member Reviews

After she hears musicians play, Mahani Teave becomes a world famous concert pianist but her heart is always with her island of Rapa Nui. She returns and builds a unique music school - from trash - calling attention to her island's troubles with ocean pollution while planning for a more sustainable future.

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I received an arc of this title from NetGalley for an honest review. An amazing true story about a girl who lived on a far away island and leaned to play piano on the only piano on the island. She becomes a beautiful pianist.

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It is one of the finest picture books written with an amazing illustrations to show how one could be attached to their roots. Mahani is a girl who lived on Rapa Nui, an island (now known to the world as Easter Island). Music is in the heart of all residents of this island. Mahani, too, can't be remained untouched. Visiters who came to island on tours make natives learn different kind of music from their native places from their part of learnings.

She tried to learn from one retired teacher who lived as a part of her visitation to island but soons he left before she got the chance to learn. Again after some time she got chance when a pianist visited to this island and took her far from island to exotic places where she learned and performed on piano.

When she came back home she found that lot more trash collected near shore from ocean. She like balanced harmony of piano worked in team with natives to build school (School of Music and the Arts) walls from trash and soon they cleared trash quantity that could have been collected over, in approximately 7 years.

Facts at the end of the book were also great and qorth learning from.

Such an inspiring work this is. I would recommend all young minds to read it, get inspired and start to work on keep their environment clean and livable.

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A wonderful presentation of an unexpected, surprising and joyously positive story. Need I mention I liked this a lot? I did have the benefit that all this was new to me – that a classical music supremo was discovered playing Easter Island/Rapa Nui's only piano, did concerts and albums of note for the outside world, and then turned back to home. The result is a cultural centre, mostly built from all the flotsam tyres and plastic bottles on the shoreline, that not only inspires with music, and instils a love of classic native culture, but also makes the place more food independent. If you know of something not to love in that story, let me know you're a wrong 'un.

Read this, check out the subject's Tiny Desk utube, wonder how someone can get a piano tuner to travel 2,200 miles from the nearest country, and be very appreciative of what we can learn from this story. The artwork is mighty fine, too. Close enough to five stars as makes no difference.

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This beautiful picture book biography tells the story of a girl named Mahani who grew up on Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and was exposed to lots of tourists who played music but then left the island and took their instruments with them. Mahani wanted to learn how to play piano and eventually left the island to learn. When she returned she noticed that there were a lot of plastic bottles/litter in the ocean near her beloved island. She worked together with other community members to create a sustainably built school out of the trash and powered by solar panels. She brought music back to her community through a performance to celebrate the school's completion. The book ends with other biographical information as well as info about the geography, culture and history of the island and the Rapanui people, as well as about sustainability and helping the environment. The illustrations are phenomenal and the story is easy enough for young readers to understand. It also teaches important messages, including how you can go off and follow your dreams but that you can also share your talents back home, as well as how anyone can do small things to make a big difference. I would definitely recommend this book and could see it being read by my students in grades 1-4. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me the chance to read and review this book!

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I learned so much about Rapa Nui (Easter Island) from this autobiographical picture book by Mahani Teave. Lovely illustrations accompany the story of a young girl on a remote island with a talent for music and her unlikely path to becoming a classical pianist, followed by her return to the island to teach music to all the children as well as work on preserving the island's natural environment. So much was packed into this short read!

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This is a wonderful book for a child that you may know. It tells the story of Mahani who grew up on distant Easter Island. How did she come to love music and the piano? What led her to travel far from her home? And, what brought her back, and what amazing things did she then accomplish? Read this lovely picture book to find out. Note that this title also has gorgeous illustrations.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Kids for this title. All opinions are my own.

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This is a beautiful story of communities coming together to find solutions through art. I loved the illustrations and the premise of the story.

Thank you to the author, the publisher, and NetGalley for an advanced digital copy in exchange for my honest review!

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My 8-year-old daughter was delighted this afternoon when I offered to read The Girl Who Heard the Music to her. I was surprised by it; I had the idea that it was set in quite a different part of the world than it actually was. I believe this is the first picture book I have ever come across that was set on Easter Island (Rapa Nui)! There are a lot of fascinating themes in this beautiful book.
When Mahani was young, there were very few musical instruments on her home island of Rapa Nui. People sang all the time, and they had ukeleles, but she was fascinated with the music and instruments that visitors to the island had. However, they always took their instruments with them when they left. When one person brought a piano, and gave Mahani music lessons, she suddenly figured out how to read the music. Now she could play anything! Her musical ability took her around the world.
On Mahani’s visits back home, she started seeing that trash was becoming a major problem for Easter Island. What could she do about it? With the help of many others, she came up with a use for a lot of the trash, which also benefited the people of her homeland. Their Rapa Nui School of Music and the Arts was soon opened with a concert.
We found the idea of a building constructed from trash very fascinating, and did some research online to learn more about it. There are a few pages of interesting facts at the end of The Girl Who Heard the Music, about Mahani and her school, and some general facts about Rapa Nui and its culture. By reading this picture book biography, children will learn about Easter Island, and also about music and caring for the environment
I received a review copy of this book from NetGalley, and these are my honest thoughts about it.

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This is one of the coolest nonfiction children's books I have read in a long time. What an amazing story; I am just in awe of what I learned in this book!

This is the story of Mahani, a child prodigy, who grows up on Rapa Nui [Easter Island] and hears music in everything around her. Through several circumstances, she discovers a talent and a deep love for the piano, but until a famous Chilean pianist comes to the Island to play and then hears Mahani play [and encourages her to study more abroad], Mahani [and others] has little opportunity to study the music she loves. She finds the strength to leave her beloved Island to go and study and then to play, all over the world, but it is always her Island that calls to her and she loves it when she can go back home.

On a trip back home, she discovers that the Island is in distress from all the visitors that now flock to the island and leave all the garbage behind and she tries to figure out what to do about it. The story from there is one of the most amazing things I have ever read, and while this is a shortened version of what was probably a long and arduous process, you still get all the time and work that goes into what Mahani and the people of Rapa Nui create and the complete JOY that comes from the finished product. It is nothing short of amazing and I am in awe of all that they have accomplished and all that they continue to do as time has gone on.

Filled with simply stunning illustrations, this is a story that is important for everyone to learn and one we need to be teaching everyone. The notes at the end add to the overall story and I found myself wanting to know more and can only hope that someone writes a full-length biography of this amazing story - it is just fantastic. I 100% recommend this book to EVERYONE.

Thank you to NetGalley, Marni Fogelson, Mahani Teave, Marta Álvarez Miguéns - Illustrator, and SOURCEBOOKS Kids/Sourcebooks Explore for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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There’s so much to like about the Girl Who Heard Music from the bright, happy tone of the artwork to the positive true story of a girl who followed her passions and a community committed to taking care of their island, Rapa Nui (aka Easter Island). Beginning with the story of how Mahani Teave becomes a famous concert pianist, it shifts to how her love of Rapa Nui led her to help build an environmentally sustainable school of music using the trash around their island – seven years' worth of it!

Teachers could easily use this book to discuss music, social studies, history, environmental issues and sustainability as all of them are touched on in Mahani’s story. It shares just enough information to give students a place to start asking questions and searching for answers. What are re’o rui and hoko? What is an Earthship? What does 7 years of garbage look like? How did they make the Moai?

The book includes further information after the story, including a fuller biography of Mahani, more information on the school and on NGO Toki’s activities, as well as facts about Rapa Nui, the Moai, the Rapanui language, Earthships, and more. My only disappointment, in fact, is the exclusion of a pronunciation guide alongside the Rapanui words and their definitions.

It’s a lovely story of hope, community, and following your dreams.

Thanks to Netgalley and Sourcebooks Kids for a copy of this book for an honest review.

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Start with a bit of island culture, throw in a love of music, and finish off with a plea for recycling trash and see if an interesting children’s book can happen. In The Girl Who Heard Music with words by Marni Fogelson and Mahani Teave and pictures by Marta Alvarez Miguens, the team does exactly that. I read the book, that goes on sale April 4, in an advance reading copy furnished by Net Galley.

The story begins with Mahani Teave living on Rapa Nui, also known as Easter Island. She takes piano lessons on the island’s only piano and adds the love of classical music to her appreciation for the local ukulele traditions. Pursuing that talent meant leaving the island to study and eventually to perform as an accomplished concert pianist. Her heart stayed with her home. When she returned, she found that tourists had also discovered it and produced an abundance of trash.

With a new dream, Mahani has built a new music school with reconstructed trash, solar panels, and a food garden. The story will appeal to students who care about music, the environment, and interesting cultures. Marta Alvarez Miguens enhances the story with her vivid picture of the islands and its traditions.

The book also has an abundance of extra information with its author’s note and tidbits about the culture.

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Mahani Taeve was born and grew up on the island of Rapa Nui, which many students have never heard of although they might recognize the Moai statues (they may have heard them referred to as Easter Island heads). She heard the music of nature around the island, as well as the ukuleles played by islanders. Visitors who came to the island sometimes brought other instruments "and her fingers itched to play the instruments she heard." Eventually, Mahani left the island to study and compete internationally as a pianist. She teamed up with other islanders to create a music school, building it with recycled trash.

Digitally painted illustrations show the breeze carrying musical notes to Mahani, the spotlight shining on her as she performs in a packed concert hall, and a terrifying flood of plastic garbage encircling the island. An afterword reviews Mahani's career and her work with the nonprofit NGO Toki to create the Rapa Nui School of Music and the Arts. Bulleted lists share facts about the island, the "Mysterious Moai," the language of Rapanui, Earthships (buildings constructed with natural and recycled materials), plastic in the ocean, and the future of Rapa Nui.

The book was cowritten by Mahani and author Marni Fogelson. Illustrator Marta Alvarez Miguens also created the artwork for Dinosaur Lady (about Mary Anning) and Shark Lady (about Eugenie Clark), so you have probably seen her work before. I think it would be fun to pair this book with Playing at the Border: A Story of Yo-Yo Ma and discuss how artists can serve communities in different ways.

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An inspirational example of a celebrity using the resources available to them to make the world a better place!! Marni Fogelson, working with Mahani Teave, has a wonderful story to tell.

Mahani Teave, as a young girl lived with her family on the tiny (yet famous) island (the bellybutton of the world according to some!) Rapa Nui (also known as Easter Island). In many of the interactions of the small island's population with the huge influx of visiting tourists, Mahani had the opportunity to enjoy music - both their native music and the visitors' music. In time, she learned to play many instruments, which ultimately led her to the only piano on the island and its owner, a teacher.

In time, Mahani became a world-renowned concert pianist, but returned often to her island. All the aspects of that beautiful place filled her with love and a purpose to return something back. Still, she had concerns (as did those of her community) which centered around the trash and pollution that found its way to the waters and beaches around Rapa Nui. Her efforts to raise awareness and engagement with other activists turned into physical action with the building of a music school using recycled and repurposed materials that changed from trash into walls and shelter. An Earthship!

This non-fiction picture book is a forward-thinking example of what can be done with cooperation, collaboration and a willingness to make changes happen. The author's weaving Mahani's story artfully with a respectful history of this challenged, once well-settled people is further benefited by Marta Alvarez Miguens' illustrations. They are fulsome and sumptuous, sweeping pages with a warm breeze you can just about feel.

I read this to my group of grandkids, and all voted "5 Stars For Sure!!!" (From there began a big discussion about NO MORE PLASTIC BOTTLES!)

A Sincere Thank You to Marni Fogelson, Mahani Teave, Marta Alvarez Miguens, Sourcebooks Kids, and NetGalley for an ARC to read and review.

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A great picture book biography on a person and place we so rarely hear about--and so often only hear about from the colonialist perspective. The images are bright and colorful, inviting the reader into the story.

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In a Nutshell: An amazing story that talks of love for music, love for homeland, and love for nature.

This is based on the true story of award-winning pianist and environmental activist Mahani Teave, and her efforts in saving her place of origin, Rapa Nui (which is more popularly known as Easter Island), from natural destruction.

Mahani grew up with a love for music, but she knew only the music of her people. When a retired piano teacher visited Rapa Nui, Mahani discovered her talent for the piano. She knew she had to leave her beloved island behind is she had to pursue her musical dreams as there was no piano on the entire island after the teacher left.

Soon, Mahani toured the world as an acclaimed classical pianist. But a visit to her Rapa Nui showed a new struggle: the tiny island was being overburdened with trash left by tourists. Thus Mahani combined her musical ambitions and the island’s garbage problem by setting up a sustainable music school constructed with recycled trash!

Isn’t the story inspiring? Do you really need more reasons to read this book? If yes, here you go:

🎶 The cover is gorgeous!!
🎶 Music and nature – the two elements dominate the story from start to end without clashing.
🎶 The story also shows the importance of not forgetting your roots. No matter how big a name you are in the world, your roots are what sustain you. I admire Mahani for not forgetting Rapa Nui even after she became successful. Many need to learn this lesson.
🎶 The opening page contains a little map that establishes how remote Rapa Nui actually is!
🎶 The book is written in simple prose, with 2-3 paragraphs per page. The vocabulary includes some Rapanui words, the meanings of which are either mentioned in the main content or in the glossary provided at the end.
🎶 The artwork is digitally painted and it is dominated by nature hues. It does perfect justice to the island and the islanders
🎶 At the end, there is a single page bio of Mahani and many amazing facts related to Rapa Nui. There’s also a note about plastic content in the ocean.
🎶 Do you know what an Earthship is? The book will tell you. (Okay, Google can also tell you this, but read the book!)

The only thing that was missing and would have made the book even more perfect for me would have been an actual photograph of Mahani on the bio page.

A must-read for everyone, whether nature lovers or music lovers, or simply those who want to see that no one is too small or too far or too inexperienced to make a difference.

5 planet-friendly stars.

My thanks to Sourcebooks Kids and NetGalley for the DRC of “The Girl Who Heard the Music”. This review is voluntary and contains my honest opinion about the book.

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The story of pianist, environmentalist, and music educator Mahani Teave is lovely and offers readers a glimpse into a place they may have never heard of--Rapa Nui (Easter Island). The illustrations are engaging, bright, and complement the words appropriately to aid comprehension.

It's interesting to compare this title to one about another female pianist that was published recently, Pitch Perfect and Persistent, about 19th-century musician Amy Beach. While I was concerned about the need for explanation of musical concepts to readers of that title, that concern did not arise in The Girl Who Heard the Music.

Additionally, I love that this book gives readers a non-white perspective on classical music and amplifies the voice and accomplishments of an indigenous person.

My only complaint about the book was that the flow of the story felt a bit choppy. I was confused when the story switched to focusing on building the music school/environmentalism. From the beginning, I was set up for the story to be about Teave's rise in music. It would have been helpful to have had some statement at the beginning that foreshadowed what would come to help avoid confusion for young readers.

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This was absolutely incredible. First and foremost, I loved learning about Easter Island. I actually had no idea where it was. I didn't realize it was near South America! I learned so much about the island itself, which I already thought was incredible.

THEN to learn about the sustainability efforts of an incredible musician?! OH MY GOD. Just absolutely phenomenal, I cannot believe how truly astonishing AND TRUE this story is. It's a testament to environmentalism and knowing that this sort of thing is possible if we just....actually do it.

We NEED more stories like this for kids to read about saving our planet AND the people who are actively working towards that goal.

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I received an electronic ARC from SOURCEBOOKS Kids through NetGalley.
Readers meet Mahani Teave as a child longing to play music. Fogelson weaves information about her home, Rapa Nui, throughout this biography to show Mahani's passion for this island. The text flows smoothly for mid-elementary level readers and higher. We see her difficult decision to leave a place she loves and feels safe to continue following her passion. This well known concert pianist also gives back to her home and works to develop a music school there for future generations. The illustrator brings her world to life so readers can see where she lived, traveled and created. A much needed biography of this artist.

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The Girl Who Heard the Music by Marni Fogelson and Mahani Teave, illustrated by Maria Alvarez Miguens (Sourcebooks Explore, April 2023) tells the true story of Mahani Teave, who grew up to be a fantastic world-traveling pianist, only to return to her home island to see the mountains of trash remaining from the tourists. It takes place in a unique location: Easter Island (Rapa Nui). This biographical picture book explores a unique way to preserve the island environment: building with trash.

The subtitle of the book is “How One Pianist and 85,000 Bottles and Cans Brought New Hope to an Island.” It was only through Mahani’s funds and vision that she was able to begin the process of cleaning the island. With her desire to bring her gift of music home to Easter Island, Mahani planned and built a music school out of seven years worth of garbage.

The gorgeous green island, as shown in the lovely illustrations, is a stark contrast to the trash-covered modern-day equivalent described in the text. I appreciated the not-so-subtle reminder that tourists to places all over the world tend to leave garbage behind, thus causing environmental issues for the locals who much keep living with it. This is just one isolated island that has changed over the years due to tourism, and it’s significant they’ve found a natural rescue it’s environment.

End matters tells more facts about Mahani’s life, as well as bullet lists about the island, the Moai (statues), the Rapanui language, earthships in general (the natural-and-garbage building model), and more details on Rapa Nui’s environmental issues.

I read a digital review copy of The Girl Who Heard the Music.

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