A young blind girl named Emmalene and her grandmother walk down a city sidewalk on their way to catch a bus to go to church. The girl hears “a sing-along song, / a busy city symphony that followed her along! / TAP-TAPPA-TAP / YIP-YIPPA-YIP / SIZZLE-SIZZLE / HONKY-HONK / Pitter-patter-DRIP!” Emmalene’s white cane tapping on the sidewalk, a barking dog, hotdogs roasting on a barbecue, blaring car horns, and water being poured from a watering can contribute to the exhilarating city song Emmalene is enjoying. When she asks Grandma Jean if she hears “that pretty ditty,” her grandmother exclaims, “Oh my child, what a notion! / That is traffic you are hearing, not a song.”
Initially, as Emmalene continues to point out the music of the city, she is undaunted by Grandma Jean’s inability—or is it refusal?—to hear what she hears. When they come up to the church, Emmalene’s ears are filled with the song of the wind: “Wind FLAPPED bright clothes. / Wind SPRINKLED rain. / Wind SCATTERED crows. / Wind RATTLED branches. / Wind CRINKLED leaves. / Wind RAINED down acorns from oak trees. / Wind DRUMMED the world with a tippity-tapping.” But still Grandma Jean doesn’t hear the song. Only when the church service begins, the trumpets are blown, and the choir sings loudly and joyously does the elderly lady exclaim, “Now, I tell you, that’s a song.”
Now, Emmalene is really upset! But what can she do to make her grandmother understand? Not surprisingly, clever Emmalene comes up with a creative idea to help Grandma Jean hear the song of the city.
Illustrator Jenin Mohammed’s vivacious pictures pulsate with the energy and beat of the city’s song and author Daniel Bernstrom’s playful, winsome narrative captures the tension, and, ultimately, the love and understanding between Emmalene and her grandmother. (Amistad Books for Young Readers)