Sounding a bit like a younger Rachael Ray, Ricci has a slight throaty rasp and a deadpan quality that well suits the personality of newcomer Urban's protagonist, 10-year-old aspiring pianist Zoe Elias. Zoe endures all manner of humiliation--including losing her best friend and playing "Hits of the '70s" on a "wheeze-bag" of an organ in competition--by reminding herself of her goal of performing piano concerts at Carnegie Hall. Short chapters prove a great way to shine the spotlight on Zoe's wry, just-short-of-sarcastic observations and will likely keep listeners hooked. However, Ricci's sometimes halting delivery and forced-sounding inflection mar the rhythm of the proceedings, taking some of the snap out of Urban's often laugh-out-loud humor. Listeners may also wonder why this recording, which has so much to do with music, contains nary a note. Ages 8-up. Simultaneous release with the Harcourt hardcover (Reviews, Aug. 20). (Sept.)[Page 53]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Gr 4-6 -Zoe wants to play the piano more than anything in the world and, if given a chance, believes she can be a prodigy. But when her father comes home with a Perfectone D-60 organ instead of a piano, Zoe knows that her dreams of becoming a world famous pianist are slipping away in Linda Urban's novel (Harcourt, 2007). The fifth grader takes this in stride and works hard anyway, perfecting the 1970s tunes that are in her lesson book, which leads to her participation in the Perform-O-Rama competition instead of playing at Carnegie Hall. Zoe approaches other issues in her life with the same accepting attitude. She doesn't dwell on the fact that her father appears to suffer from a disorder that involves fear of leaving the house and interacting with others, and her mother is a workaholic. Tai Alexandra Ricci voices Zoe as a calm, level-headed child. Through humor and realistic situations, this story teaches youngsters about making the best of even bad situations and working hard to succeed.-Stephanie Farnlacher, Trace Crossings Elementary School, Hoover, AL[Page 86]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.