Secrets of the Old Music Room
by Christy Wilburn Nobella Webb
Stratton Press

"…it was hard to contain her excitement as she anticipated being able to explore the old music room, especially the magical secrets of the old player piano!"

In the summer of 1968, seventeen-year-old Debra spends her days watering the yard and knitting a sweater at her grandfather’s house while he’s away. The curious Debra discovers an exceptional secret of the player piano hidden in the basement, inadvertently conjuring up an entity named Middle C. Debra is taken into the music realm by way of a music mobile and a trusty metronome “to modulate their exact destination.”

Within the music realm “the impossible becomes possible,” and Debra learns and studies music in a way she never imagined, meeting famous composers and distinct characters like Madame Treble Clef and Bass Clef. Here, she meets Ted, whose obnoxious attitude at first belies his hidden integrity and talents that Debra helps nurture. On their journey “to become enlightened in all aspects of music,” they discover affections for one another while developing their musical talents. But competition from a jealous student, Rita, impacts Debra’s relationship with Ted, and Debra must rely on her moral compass to navigate the complexities of adolescence.

This first book in Webb’ series is a contented story that is appealing and readable for all ages. There is an unusual stylistic choice with a play on musical terms in bold, such as grandiso, melody, and tempo, that pop on the page as if one is viewing piano keys. It is an intriguing idea, but it is a bit distracting when reading. Despite this, Webb’s tale is something akin to reading Alice in Wonderland, where her world-building blends a teen girl’s realistic coming-of-age story with magical realism. She explores her good-natured protagonist’s aspirations, emotions, and discovery of young love in a dreamy world. Webb’s story is an engaging and relaxing read that leaves the reader satisfied and promises more to come in Debra’s magical journey.

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