Heartsong

Expect to cry a little again.

Illustrator Jane Ray went to Venice and discovered some facts about a children’s home there in the 18th century. It appears to have been similar to Coram’s in London, where desperate mothers left their babies, who were then farmed out for some years, before returning to the nuns at the hospital.

Jane wanted to do something with the stuff she found but didn’t know what, until she spoke to Kevin Crossley-Holland, who took her scraps and made them into a story about one girl in particular, who lived with the nuns at the time Vivaldi was music teacher there.

Kevin Crossley-Holland and Jane Ray, Heartsong

Laura is eleven and mute. She is musical, but lacks a way of expressing herself until Father Antonio starts to teach her. After a dreadful attempt at playing the viola, Laura finds that the flute is her instrument. It becomes her way of talking.

The children at the home dream of being collected by their mothers one day. Laura’s best friend leaves her behind when her mother comes for her.

But at least she has Father Antonio who is kind and who looks after her, teaching her music and letting her play in his little orchestra. And she has this tune that runs through her head continously…

Very lovely.

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