Book Description

In ancient China, a young musician named Yu Boya gained fame for his talents. On the night of the Moon Festival, he encounters a mysterious woodcutter who is also a musician and admires Boya’s most famous song: Lofty Mountains and Flowing Water. Their friendship deepens and Boya vows to play the song for his new friend every year on the festival night. But the next year, upon hearing of his friend’s death, Boya smashes his instrument and never plays again. To this day, the word for “close friendship” means “understanding the music.”

Book Reviews

This sincere and ancient tale depicts the legendary friendship of Yu Boya and Zhong Ziqi. Both share a true understanding of music and bond when they meet by chance through their deep appreciation of the guqin, a traditional Chinese string instrument. Boya tells Ziqi how he was introduced to the guqin as a young boy and quickly mastered the technique needed to play proficiently. Though he was skilled, however, his music failed to connect to his audiences. Boya was sent to Penglai Island, fabled home of the immortals, to await a new teacher only to realize that it is nature that will inspire him to create his greatest compositions. Ziqi is moved by Boya’s ability to capture the essential beauty of nature, and Boya in turn is grateful to have found a companion who truly understands his music. Like Boya’s masterpieces, the illustrations reflect a reverence for the majestic Chinese landscape. Towering mountains that disappear into an endless mist and verdant river valleys are lushly portrayed with vibrant colors in a style emulating traditional Chinese brush art. There is a lovely balance between the bold landscapes and detailed, close-up images that allow readers to connect to the strong emotional resonance of the story. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.375-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 32.7% of actual size.)
Elegant and evocative, this culturally authentic folktale beautifully conveys the powerful bonds of music and friendship. (Picture book. 5-9)

Book Details