A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The story paints a picture of life in the South for Black families in the mid-20th century. For example, it references songs being played on the radio and illustrates the importance of the church to family life. The author's note tells more about the origins of Roberta Flack's career, mentioning icons in the music industry like Frederick "Wilkie" Wilkerson, an opera singer and jazz pianist Les McCann. A section called Career Highlights offers a timeline of Flack's accomplishments.
Keep pressing towards your dreams. Dreams do come true. A little bit of creativity goes a long way. Practice makes perfect.
Positive Role Models
Mother and Daddy instilled a love of music in Roberta from an early age and supported her passion by getting her piano lessons and her prized green piano. In the author's note, Roberta encourages readers to find their own "green piano" -- whatever gives them dreams and passion -- and to practice relentlessly in order to leave their marks on the world.
The main character is young Roberta Flack, a working-class Black girl growing up in the South in the mid 1900's. The book portrays her Black southern community. The author's note mentions Flack's education at Howard University and Flack's connections to music icons Frederick "Wilkie" Wilkerson and Les McCann.
Did we miss something on diversity? Suggest an update.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Green Piano is a collaborative effort between Grammy-award winning singer Roberta Flack and award-winning author Tonya Bolden. It tells the story of Flack's journey from young dreamer to musical legend and the gift that most inspired her -- a junkyard piano that her father refurbished and painted green. The book is written in verse and mentions titles of songs that were instrumental in developing the singer's love of music, like "Precious Lord, Take My Hand," "A-Tisket, A-Tasket," and "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." Illustrations by debut artist Hayden Goodman portray a close-knit, working-class Black community. Themes about creativity, resilience and the importance of family take center stage. At the end of the book, readers will find an author's note that explains Flack's reason for writing the book, along with childhood photos of the singer. Readers can also learn about her career highlights in a timeline.
Is It Any Good?
This sweet and simple story offers readers a powerful message. The Green Piano is a reminder to readers young and old to honor the dreams in their hearts and pursue them passionately. Written in simple verse with charming illustrations by Hayden Goodman, the book shows us that the little things in life -- like a piano from the junkyard -- can make the biggest impacts. It's also a good starting point for learning more about Black culture in the mid-20th century, including Roberta Flack's career and the careers of others who helped launch her.
Though it's inspiring, The Green Piano falls a little flat in engaging its target audience -- kids. The free verse may be a little more difficult for kids to grasp. And while Roberta Flack is a noteworthy musician, today's kids are likely less familiar with her music and career, so her name on the book isn't necessarily a draw for them.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Our Editors Recommend
Books About Families
Exciting Books for Young Kids Learning About Black History
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate