Listen: How Evelyn Glennie, a Deaf Girl, Changed Percussion

By Shannon Stocker, illustrated by Devon Holzwarth. Dial Books, 2022. 40 pages. $17.99/hardcover; $10.99/eBook. Recommended for ages 4–8.

This picture book tells the true story of Evelyn Glennie, who became deaf as an adolescent and overcame deafness to make a genuine mark on the music world through her musicianship. As a child, she lived on a farm in Scotland and demonstrated early a love and facility with music. Glennie’s ears began to hurt, and she lost most of her hearing. An audiologist recommended hearing aids and transition to a school for the deaf. Through persistence and grit, Glennie was admitted to the Royal Academy of Music in London. This was no mean feat, as her first audition was met with a resounding no, due to her disability. Glennie’s innovative solution of listening with more than her ears, along with her drive and musicality, enabled her to graduate from the Royal Academy of Music and subsequently perform around the world.

Glennie’s key to success is captured in her message: “Create your own story. . . . You cannot wait for things to happen to you. You must make your own opportunities.” Glennie did just that and in the process overcame a seemingly insurmountable obstacle to being a successful musician. She is a double Grammy winner; has been awarded the Queen’s Commendation for All-Round Excellence; and performed with notable musicians such as Bobby McFerrin, Béla Fleck, and Mark Knopfler. Her inspiring story is nicely told in this picture book with an economy of words to capture the story and still keep young readers engaged. The book is additionally enhanced by evocative and colorful artwork that contributes to the reader’s understanding and appreciation of the story.

This book would be a great addition to a home, school, or meeting library. There are also opportunities on the Internet to see performances of Glennie in concert settings.

Vickie LeCroy is a retired teacher, mother, and grandmother who lives near Nashville, Tenn.

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