So whadda we think about Tiger Mom? It's funny how meta everything gets so quickly now--outrage over Amy Chua's article rapidly devolving into debate over the outrage, answered by Chua's emendations and demurrals . . . . I wonder if she lets her kids read from the Newbery shelf only. "I don't see a sticker on that book, Lulu. Where is the sticker? What? What? What is this TTYL? No! I'm burning it. Watch me burn it now. Bye-bye, TTYL, you bad book with no sticker. Hellooooo, A Gathering of Days!
One thing Chua is right about is piano practice. I've just read Jane Breskin Zalben's new middle-school novel Four Seasons (Knopf), about Ally, a gifted kid who studies piano at The Julliard School (only amateurs, she tells us, refer to it as just plain Julliard). I can't remember a book so honest about the demands made upon young serious musicians--by their teachers, their parents, themselves. Ally's parents have an interestingly complex job of raising her: her father is an active professional musician and her mom, well, her mom has a story of her own. On the one hand, they want Ally to be happy and have a "normal" life, etc., but on the other, they know how hard she is going to have to work if she wants to make the piano her life. Whether she does want to do that provides the novel with its theme, and it's a truly engrossing exposition. Highly recommended to all those forced through "Lightly Row" and "The Spinning Song."