The Girl Who Heard the Music by Marni Fogelson and Mahani Teave, illustrated by Maria Alvarez Miguens (Sourcebooks Explore, April 2023) tells the true story of Mahani Teave, who grew up to be a fantastic world-traveling pianist, only to return to her home island to see the mountains of trash remaining from the tourists. It takes place in a unique location: Easter Island (Rapa Nui). This biographical picture book explores a unique way to preserve the island environment: building with trash.
The subtitle of the book is “How One Pianist and 85,000 Bottles and Cans Brought New Hope to an Island.” It was only through Mahani’s funds and vision that she was able to begin the process of cleaning the island. With her desire to bring her gift of music home to Easter Island, Mahani planned and built a music school out of seven years worth of garbage.
The gorgeous green island, as shown in the lovely illustrations, is a stark contrast to the trash-covered modern-day equivalent described in the text. I appreciated the not-so-subtle reminder that tourists to places all over the world tend to leave garbage behind, thus causing environmental issues for the locals who much keep living with it. This is just one isolated island that has changed over the years due to tourism, and it’s significant they’ve found a natural rescue it’s environment.
End matters tells more facts about Mahani’s life, as well as bullet lists about the island, the Moai (statues), the Rapanui language, earthships in general (the natural-and-garbage building model), and more details on Rapa Nui’s environmental issues.
I read a digital review copy of The Girl Who Heard the Music.