Cover Reveal: THE NOTE WHO FACED THE MUSIC by Lindsay Bonilla
The dam has broken. Once you start publishing cover reveals for 2023 books, it’s awful hard to stop. Today I am pleased as punch to introduce Lindsay Bonilla. The Note Who Faced the Music, illustrated by Mark Hoffman and out in March of 2023 anthropomorphizes NOTES! The musical kind, no less. Here’s the publisher description:
Half Note doesn’t feel whole. With two beats, she isn’t as big and beautiful as the longer notes, or quick and upbeat like the shorter notes. She’ll never measure up! So she picks up like a fast tempo and leaves. But the next morning, Composer and the rest of the musical staff all sing the same panicked tune: WHERE IS HALF NOTE? Perfect for music lovers, this hilarious, offbeat tale of sheet music in treble will strike a chord with anyone who’s felt flat, ringing with reassurance that we’re all key players.
And just to clarify things, Lindsay was kind enough to give us a little additional information about this tuneful title:
THE NOTE WHO FACED THE MUSIC sounds like a book that should be written by someone who knows a lot about music. But that is not me! Before writing NOTE, I’m not sure that I could’ve correctly identified a half note out of a line-up of musical notes. And while I like to think of myself as a good reader – that applies to words, not music!
As a child, I very briefly played the keyboard, then cello. And a few years ago, my husband and his friend (both drummers and guitarists) handed me an electric bass during a jam session, and by some stroke of luck I managed to learn to play the top two strings. Still, I’d say the closest I come to any musical talent is my love for singing – which I do by ear!
So, suffice it to say, this book did not come about because of my immense knowledge of music. Instead, it literally came out of nowhere when I got a particular phrase stuck in my head that made me smile. That phrase, which is now the first line of the book, was “Half Note didn’t feel whole.”
I wrote down that opening line and the idea for a story about a Half Note wishing she could be bigger, cooler and more like Whole Note back in March of 2015. I’m not sure if I was intimidated by my lack of musical knowledge, busy with other projects, busy being Mom (my oldest son was 1 at that time!) or a combination of all of the above, but I didn’t write a first draft of NOTE until over a year later!
Once I started, Google was definitely my friend as I began to learn about musical notes, symbols and terminology – many of which did ring a bell from my days in middle school choir. I also had a blast playing with the language and adding tons of musical puns to the story which turned into a celebration of both identity and friendship. I worked on the manuscript for two years, enlisting two musically-minded friends – Amy Glick, a violinist in the Akron Symphony and Shawna Howard, an elementary music teacher – to make sure that my use of musical terms made sense.
In 2018, my agent, Christa Heschke, began sending out the story, and poor Half Note started collecting rejections. She didn’t measure up! While multiple editors remarked that the story was witty and imaginative, they felt that the concept of reading music would be too “sophisticated,” “complex,” and “advanced” for young readers. I didn’t agree! If my own kids (5 and 8) have taught me anything, it’s not to underestimate children. I believed that kids would get the concept if given the chance, and so did my agent and her awesome assistant, Daniele Hunter – so they kept subbing.
Then in January of 2021, I received an offer from Kayla Tostevin at Page Street Kids. As someone who grew up playing multiple musical instruments, she loved the punny humor in NOTE and the idea that the story could provide some beginner’s info about reading music for young readers. Working with Kayla was amazing. Her insightful feedback, attention to detail, and passion for music made the story sing!
In another rejection I had received, an editor felt it would be difficult to illustrate musical notes. Clearly, this editor did not know the magic that illustrator Mark Hoffman can work with inanimate objects! Mark has brought to life fruit, money, and even mushrooms! When my editor sent me some of Mark’s work before he’d signed on to the project, I remember falling in love with one of his drawings in particular – a bar of soap! Mark had somehow managed to infuse that soap with such personality and humor that I knew he’d be able to do the same with my characters. And he did – giving each note and musical symbol tons of personality and making the story burst with color!
At my most recent author visits, I’ve shared a tiny bit about this upcoming book with my audiences. When I do, I can immediately tell who the music teachers are because their eyes light up! I am so excited for music teachers to have this fun book as a teaching tool for their students. But I believe Half Note’s story will resonate with ALL readers, music lovers and non-music lovers alike. Because just like Half Note, sometimes we all need the reminder that who we are and the part we play is important – even when we don’t feel like it.
And now… the cover!
THE NOTE WHO FACED THE MUSIC releases on March 14, 2023. Many thanks to Lindsay for coming by and telling us about it today!
Filed under: Cover Reveal
About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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