Review by Ekaterina Shatalova
The Music of My Woodpecker («Музыка моего дятла»)
by Anna Anisimova, illustrations by Yulia Sidneva
Published by Samokat, 2020
Recommended age: 6+
‘What on earth are you doing? Don’t you see who you’re playing with? What if something happens? You’re the older one and should know better. She’s been through enough!’
How often do we hear condescending language like this from grown-ups when they talk about children with disabilities? Too often. That’s why The Music of My Woodpecker, masterfully written by talented author Anna Anisimova is a must read for both children and adults.
This is a heart-warming collection of four short stories about a blind girl who proves on a daily basis that childhood can be happy even without one of the senses. Her life is full of little precious moments that she shares with her extremely supportive family and friends: playing hide and seek with her mum and making a cake for the guests, visiting the zoo with her dad and discovering new books in the library, exploring the streets with her Grandad, and learning a secret code language with her friend Pashka.
Whether she is drawing in an art class or sledding down the hill, everything is sparkled with endless imagination: she can tell you all about the invisible elephant and her Grandad’s third leg, a walking stick that is always in a hurry, about bunny-like clouds and a whale with his long-haired mermaid friends. This girl might not see the world as we do, but nothing stops her from creating her own world full of joy and excitement. This important book is about happiness despite everything, and is told without fear or pity.
The book includes the Braille alphabet and is accompanied by a visual guide on how to help a blind person. The cover also features the title written in Braille. One of the stories – The Invisible Elephant – was published before, in 2013, as a separate picture book illustrated by Diana Lapshina. It was included in the 2017 IBBY Catalogue of Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities.
Written in a simple language full of wordplay and humour, it speaks to all ages, while inventive illustrations by Yulia Sidneva perfectly capture the fragile balance between the real world and the invisible.
About the author
Anna Anisimova (b. 1983), children’s author, journalist, editor, has won the Krapivin International Children’s Literature Award, as well as other numerous awards.
More information in Russian on the website of the publisher, Samokat