Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin

Written by: Chieri Uegaki

Illustrated by: Qin Leng

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English, slight Japanese.

Topics Covered: Self-Expression, Family, Music, Asian Families.

Summary: Hana Hashimoto has signed up to play her violin for the school talent show, despite only having been to three lessons.  Her brothers mock her and run away while she practices, but Hana yearns to play as well as their grandfather, who was a famous violinist in Japan.  On the days leading up to the talent show, Hana remembers all of the different songs her grandfather would play on his violin throughout the day when she visited him in Japan over the summer.  He was skilled at playing classical music, but also imitating crickets, raindrops, and birds.  Hana recalls the music that would wake her up in the morning and make her drift off to sleep, sleeping on her tatami mat with a sweet-smelling buckwheat pillow.  On the evening of the talent show, five other violinists perform before her.  Hana is nervous when she steps out onstage, but imagines playing only for her grandfather.  She begins to imitate all of her favorite sounds in nature with her violin-crickets, raindrops on paper umbrellas, cows, and crows.  The book ends with her family asking for an encore after dinner that evening, her brothers appreciating her creative way of playing the violin.

Reflection Questions:

  • Do you know how to play any instruments?
  • What is something an older family member can do that you would like to learn?
  • How can you learn a new skill?
  • Hana plays the violin in a non-traditional manner, what is something you do that is unique to yourself alone?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Think about a skill you would like to learn, and make a plan how to do so.  Are there family members that can help you? Community members?  Think up a way to be able to take lessons, and a way to pay for them yourself.  Maybe trading a weekly carwash for a guitar lesson, or dog-walking for a painting class.
  • Find someone in the community that does something non-traditionally.  What is it, and why did they develop their skill that way?  Write a story about their life, and how this skill impacted it.  How are they a role-model to others?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

chieri_uegakiChieri Uegaki is a second-generation Japanese-Canadian who was born in Quesnel, British Columbia. By the age of one, she and her parents had moved to East Vancouver, where she and her two sisters grew up.Chieri attended Sir John Franklin Elementary School. Initially, she had to take English as a Second Language classes as she spoke mostly Japanese at home. An excellent ESL teacher and an inherited love of books helped develop Chieri’s skills quickly, and language arts became one of her favorite subjects. Chieri then went to Templeton Senior Secondary. As she neared graduation, she was thrilled to discover that the University of British Columbia offered a degree in Creative Writing. She submitted a portfolio of writing samples and was accepted into the program. Chieri’s first picture book, Suki’s Kimono, was a result of losing two children’s writing competitions. She took a story she’d written at UBC almost a decade earlier, rewrote it as a picture book and submitted it. After being shortlisted in that first competition, Chieri honed the story even more and entered a second competition. Again, Suki’s Kimono did not win. And, again, the story was shortlisted. But this time, the shortlisted titles were passed on to several Canadian publishers. Two publishers requested a copy of Chieri’s manuscript, and Kids Can Press came back with an offer to publish. Suki’s Kimono, illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch, was released in 2003. Chieri enjoyed working on the picture book so much that she decided to continue writing for children. Rosie and Buttercup was published by Kids Can Press in 2008. Chieri has also written stories for Chirp and chickaDEE magazines as well as for Pearson Education. Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin is Chieri’s third picture book. Chieri lives on the Sunshine Coast with her husband and two dogs, Nika and Rosie.

qin lengQin Leng was born in Shanghai, and later moved to France, then Montreal. She now lives in Toronto with her partner and works as a designer and illustrator. Her father, an artist himself, was a great influence on her. She grew up surrounded by paintings, and it became a second nature for her to express herself through art. Qin Leng graduated from The Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema and has received many awards for her animated short films and work. In 2009, she illustrated her first picturebook and has been busy ever since. From very early on, she always loved to portray the innocence of children and has developed a passion for children’s books. She has published numerous picture books in North America, Europe, and Asia, for publishers such as Random House, Highlights, Groundwood Books, Kids Can Press, Annick Press, Inhabit Media, Second Story Press, Chirp, Owl Kids, Simply Read Books, Usborne, Gallimard Jeunesse, Hatier, Bayard Jeunesse, and Dominique et Compagnie. Her books have been nominated for prices, such as the prestigious Governor General Literary Award in 2014 and she has been a recipient of the 2015 Asian Pacific Literary Award for best picturebook.

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