The Music of Peace
by Beverly Fearon
Authors Press

"Harmony hated fighting of any kind."

A little girl whose last day at school is upset by the fight that breaks out among some of her classmates finds contentment in her name's meaning in this charming parable by children's writer Fearon. Harmony, the book's young heroine, is so negatively affected by conflict that she can't even watch such things on TV. After witnessing the boys' fight and resultant bloody noses, she flees outside to a grass-tufted hill and begins to sing a song to calm herself. Her father always told her that she sang like her mother, who had a lovely voice. As she sings, a strange feeling comes over her. Something is about to happen. She looks up and sees something in the sky. Within minutes the mysterious object has revealed itself as a hot air balloon. It is filled with children and quickly lands nearby.

Amazed, Harmony meets the balloon's passengers: Aaru, from Egypt, plays a strangely melodic tambourine; Jamy, a Nigerian girl, appears with a "talking" drum; Mexican Paz plays guitar; a boy from Japan, Uta, carries an unusual flute; and Erin, an Irish girl, has a magical way with a fiddle. As this youthful ensemble plays, Harmony spontaneously starts singing. She doesn't know what the song is or where it came from, but it blends perfectly with the music the other children are making. Through this experience, Harmony will undergo a sudden and mystical life change. She will learn why her name and her gift are so special and how she can use her talent to help people all over the world.

Fearon, a grandmother who wants to share her imaginative ideas with others, has composed this tale—which begins in conflict and ends in peace—as both entertainment and education. Simple, colorful illustrations enhance the narrative, making it an easy presentation for younger children. Meanwhile, small bits of important information will motivate older readers to investigate and learn more. The children's names (including, of course, that of Harmony) are symbolic. For example, "Aaru" means "peaceful," while "Uta" means "song." Many readers may also recognize "Paz" as the word for "peace" in Spanish. Additionally, the instruments mentioned may lead to further discussion. While the guitar and violin are generally well known and familiar to most youngsters, others will doubtless be new to them and incite curiosity. The "riq" played by Aaru is indigenous to Egypt, and Uta's sakauchi—a bamboo flute—is of Japanese origin.

The attractive fantasy the author has created combines the love of music, childlike innocence, and the innate human desire to foster peace where there is conflict through the medium of musical charms. Harmony is fortunate to have an understanding father, a parent that young readers will appreciate for his encouragement of his daughter's talents and wishes. Fearon's book concludes with a song, including sheet music, entitled "A Better View," by Donna Penney. Families or groups where music is already a shared pastime may want to sing and play it as an accompaniment to the text and as a reminder of the important values stressed in Fearon's engaging tale.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

Return to USR Home