Set against the beauty of Venice, Heartsong is a unique and lyrical story, inspired by Vivaldi's Four Seasons.

Laura was pushed through the baby hatch at the orphanage.

This is the home of unwanted children. Most of us are brought here, a few are found, and almost all of us come wearing rags, or naked as needles. Almost none come with a name.

Life isn't easy for Laura; being mute, she is left out by the other girls and teased by the boys. And then Father Antonio discovers her musical gifts- and gives her a voice. 

Gently I blew, and the flute began to sing.

This is a very special and unique book. Combining historical detail- Vivaldi was the director of music at the Ospedale della Pieta (the orphanage of the story)- and imagination- Laura grew from an entry in the list of girls admitted, Heartsong blends details of life in the orphanage, life in Venice at the time and music and silence of Laura's days. Kevin Crossley-Holland's wonderful prose is perfectly complemented by Jane Ray's beautiful, moving illustrations. 

As a starting point for work in the classroom, this text has so much to offer. Apart from inspiring writing- particularly poetry- drama and enriching vocabulary, the book is perfect for a music or art focus. What better way to interest children in a composer than offer a magical insight into their life and work through story and music combined? Children could paint in response to sections of The Four Seasons or use the beautiful tree illustrations to inspire their own seasonal pictures. They could compose music for parts of Laura's life, giving her the voice she doesn't have. There are so many possibilities to explore!

Gorgeous to look at, gorgeous to read; Heartsong is a real treasure. 


Heartsong by Kevin Crossley-Holland, illustrated by Jane Ray

Orchard books ISBN: 978-1408336069