PPBF: The Music Inside Me

It's time for the 45th annual Musical production at Friendswood High School, and our son Jacob is playing trumpet in the pit band for the third and last time. I've hardly seen him this week as the rehearsals go past my bedtime. 
Guys and Dolls opens tonight and I can't wait! 
So it's music that connects me to today's PPBF pick at 
Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Title: The Music Inside Me
Authors: Marvin Elementary School 4th and 5th Grade Students
Illustrators: Bill Henderson and Students of Marvin Elementary
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc., 2005
Suitable for: all ages
Fiction inspired by "afternoons playing at the seashore."
Themes: compassion, kindness, aging, elderly, music
Brief Synopsis: Charlie, an arthritic elderly man, is kind of creepy to the children who live nearby until, on a dare, one of them takes the time to hear the music in his heart.
Opening Page: When I was a young girl, I lived by the water on a street called Seaside Place. At the end of my block stood an old, weather-beaten Victorian house that was said to be haunted. In it lived a crotchety old man whose wife had died long ago. He was tall and skinny, with piercing blue eyes and a long, white, scraggly beard that hung over his worn-out clothes. Back then, to us, he looked like he was at least 105 years old. 
Fiction inspired by "afternoons playing at the seashore."

Read a review from Good Books {here}. 
Learn more about the Scholastic Kids Are Authors Award {here}.
Research the educational benefits of music {here}.
Make a seashell (or sea glass) wind chime or mobile. Color or paint an empty toilet paper roll, decorate it as desired, punch holes to run thread and hang four or five shells. 

This one that our son made hangs in our guest bath.
For literacy extension, challenge your students to a scavenger hunt through this vocabulary-rich text.
1. Find an apostrophe error in the book. 
2. Pick out sparkle words. 
3. Look for new-to-me words.
4. Take note of musical words.
5. Uncover the idioms, metaphors and similes. 

Why I like this book: A book written for kids by kids ... what's not to like? And with music as its central theme, it gripped my heart so tightly that I had to choke back tears as I read it the first time. 

When Jenny loses a dare and has to go talk to the old coger, it took me back to my long-ago days on the farm and the two abandoned homes that always had that mystique of someone old and scary still living there somehow. When Charlie grabbed her with that one swift move, it momentarily took my breath away. Words so powerful that they can transport me to another time so seamlessly are a sure sign that there's something special that's about to unfold.

In this jewel, it's a friendship between a renowned but aging musician who can no longer play his cello and a "motley" group of friends who exchange their playtime to listen to the stories that keep the music in Charlie's heart alive. Each piece of sea glass in the cellist's collection holds a special memory, and as the intergenerational clan walks the seashore, they unearth the chance for each of them to connect not only to the sea glass they find ... but ultimately to one another. 

Be warned; you may never look at a piece of sea glass the same again.


  1. Awwww....how touching! I'm going to check this one out right away. I hope your son's performance goes well. ;-}

  2. I wasn't familiar with Scholastic's Kids are Authors award. How cool is that!

  3. Thanks so much for this wonderful introduction to Scholastic Kids.

  4. This would be perfect before a trip to the beach. Thank you for this sweet choice.

  5. Barbara, I always enjoy your selections. This one really touched me on several levels and I hope my library has it. It brought up memories of my childhood too. Enjoy how you used this in class. Great activities.

  6. I don't know, but I feel like everyone grew up with a neighbor they wondered about!

  7. This looks like a great book. Kid authors, strange neighbors, the seashore, music. I'll have to check this one out! Thanks!

    1. Oh, Rhythm, my friend ... the only thing missing is a dog!!

  8. OMG this sounds so lovely I'm tearing up just reading your description! I want to read it right now! What a wonderful message, and as you said, how terrific to have story written for kids by kids. Thank you so much for adding this gem to our list!


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