Title: Piano Zen
Author: Thomas Rheingans
Publication Date: February 7, 2022
Genre: Fantasy, Children’s
Piano Zen is a fantasy story about an eleven-year-old boy named William Longfellow Emerson who takes piano lessons with a friendly but eccentric Piano Zen teacher named Rosa Carreño.
Rosa lives and teaches Piano Zen lessons in the Gate Lodge high up in Imperial Heights above the City of Nightingale. Piano Zen is a secretive piano society whose origins trace back to early 18th century Tibet.
When Rosa rings her Tibetan Bowl during William’s piano lessons, something magical seems to happen and William finds himself transported into a dream world called the Whispering Woods of the Tall Pines.
In the dream world he meets interesting anthropomorphic animal characters and master piano teachers representing the Four Elements of Earth, Air, Water, and Fire. These Elements Masters live and teach in mysterious temples and palaces. The story follows William’s adventures in both the real world and the dream world.
Why This Book
Piano Zen immediately came to mind when I settled on the theme of books with children for this month. It’s also categorized as for children, but, as an adult, I really enjoyed this one, finding it very magical and very sweet. It’s about an eleven-year-old boy named William who lost his father some time ago. He and his mother are very close, and it’s so sweet to see them together. William begins to take some fascinating piano lessons with the reclusive Rosa, where the ringing of her Tibetan Bowl at the start of every lesson immediately transports William to a magical world.
I adored William. He’s such a sweet child. But it was his adventures through a magical world where he learns about Earth, Water, Air, and Fire in order to better learn to play the piano that really captured me. There isn’t much danger as this book is focused at introducing a particular teaching method, but I loved that William’s guides tended to be animals and he really needed them when he arrived far from where he was supposed to. It was wonderful to explore the world and this teaching method with William.
My review: “Piano Zen is not the typical sort of fantasy novel. There are no big problems to solve, no crises to deal with. Instead, it’s completely focused on William, his youthful curiosity, and his journey of learning to play the piano through the Piano Zen method. Piano Zen is both a fun, lighthearted fantasy read that made me smile and dream as a fantasy lover and something of a beginner’s guide to this teaching method, which actually exists.”
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