Poems and Prose About Chinese Musical Instruments

Written by Emily Jiang, illustrated by April Chu

SUMMONING THE PHOENIX Welcome to a whole new cultural experience, an orchestra of images, poetry, and informative narratives that describe a wide variety of classical Chinese musical instruments. Poems reflect the feelings of twelve individual children learning to play and perform. Narratives give the reader accessible descriptions of how these instruments look and their unique sounds. Comparisons are made to familiar western instruments such as the violin. Illustrations show contemporary children struggling with feelings and frustrations – and excitement – experienced by all young musicians – the nervousness of pre-performance, the patience and persistence of hours of practice, and of course the universal anxiety of stage fright:

   Conquering Stage Fright

My pipa curves

            Into my lap.

It’s not easy to balance

            If I’m wearing a skirt

Made of silk.

 So I focus on the music.

Each note must be

Perfectly plucked

Each chord must be

Seamlessly strummed.

 Sometimes I whisper

Encouraging words

            To my pipa

So it won’t slip

Out of my lap.

Other poems express the excitement of performance day!

Being Backstage

…. Now I will practice . . .

My entrance: Chin up!

My stance: Sit straight…

And especially, for the end,

How long I should take

My bow.



I will play

In a concert!

First Backstage jitters and giggles – and then – time to perform, and finally –

Take a bow!

SUMMONING THE PHOENIX is a fun, fascinating contribution to the We Need Diverse Books campaign! Enjoy humming along, tapping your foot, and imagining these new and different musical sounds.


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