Review Copy Courtesy of Clarion Books
Where to get The Bear, the Piano, the Dog, and the Fiddle:
Here is a beautiful picture book that adeptly explores themes of jealousy, parting with friends, following your dreams, personal regrets, and the enduring power of friendship. It gently shows us human failings and the heartbreak that can follow, but that despite our flaws, true friendship can and does prevail.
Hector, a fiddle player, and Hugo, a dog and Hector’s biggest fan, have endured a lot together. Some good, some bad, and some crazy. When we meet them, they’re going through a pretty rough time. People aren’t digging Hector like they used to, and especially not now that people can go see a piano-playing bear instead of an older man like himself. So frustrated and disheartened, Hector gives up playing the fiddle and spends his days listening to audiobooks, watching tv, and sleeping a lot.
But one morning while it is still dark, Hector hears something. He follows the sound to his rooftop and finds Hugo, his dog, is making beautiful music with his old fiddle. Hugo, it turns out, is an amazing fiddle player himself! But instead of feeling excited and happy for his friend, Hector is jealous. But when he sees how much Hugo loves to play his fiddle, he is able to push those feelings aside and soon begins mentoring Hugo. And what a success!
The next thing they know, Hugo is drawing huge crowds, and a very famous piano-playing bear arrives and invites Hugo to go with him on tour around the world.
This stings a lot for Hector, because touring the world was always his dream. So not only does he miss out on his dream of touring the world and playing the fiddle, he loses his best friend, too. It’s pretty rough, and we understand.
Hector tries so hard to be happy for Hugo, but right before Hugo is set to go on tour, Hector asks him to stay. When Hugo refuses, Hector says some pretty regretful things to Hugo. He tries to apologize, but by the time he gets to Hugo – he’s already gone and it’s too late.
Later, much later, after traveling around the world, Hugo is back in town with Bear’s band. Hector goes to see show. He has missed his friend so much and is excited to get to see him play. He’s worried that Hugo won’t want him there because of the last thing he said to him, but takes that risk and goes to see the show.
At the concert, Hugo spots Hector in the audience and the next thing he knows, there are two security guards behind Hector. This isn’t good, right? They must be here to kick him out. But fortunately, this is a lovely children’s picture book, and no one gets kicked out of anything. In fact, Hector is invited up on the stage. Bear introduces the crowd to Hector and tells everyone that Hugo wouldn’t be where he was today with Hector’s help and friendship.
Hector realizes that no matter what, good times, bad times, or times apart – they will always be friends.
It’s a very sweet book that has my children asking questions like: if I thought friendship could endure death (yes!), if Hector was nervous to get up on stage like that without practicing (probably, but maybe not), and if Hector would now be part of the band (I don’t know, that’d be fun wouldn’t it?). The Bear, the Piano, the Dog, and the Fiddle is a great story to show how unexpected life can be while also giving a reassuring sense that, even if you mess up pretty badly, a true friend will still love you.
The illustrations are dazzling. If you’re looking for a picture book with excellent use of color saturation and placement of light – this is a perfect picture book to enjoy and take in. The illustrations give the story a cinematic quality and perfectly provokes a sense of drama, struggle, and redemption in the readers. I love that the main character is an elderly gentleman. It shows some of the difficulties of getting older that are important for people of all ages and stages to see. It has a satisfying conclusion, but definitely has me wondering what’s next? Where does the story go from here? I’d love to hang out more in this incredible world that Litchfield has created for us. Encore! (Please!)
The is the second one of Litchfield’s picture books that features a piano-playing bear. The first book, The Bear and the Piano is a memorable and touching book about the difficulties of juggling success and making time for those you love. Both of these books are sublime and bring an elevated sense of wonder and understanding to the parent/child reading experience. I hope you get a chance to check them out. Litchfield’s stories are a true delight.
To learn more about David Litchfield and see more of his amazing artwork – visit his website: https://www.davidlitchfieldillustration.com/
Where Obtained: I received a review copy from the publisher. No other compensation was received. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
FTC Disclosures: Some of the links in the post above are Amazon affiliate links and others are IndieBound affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase something, I will receive an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. Which goes to fund my family’s picture book habit. It’s a vicious cycle, but we manage. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”