The Orphan Singer by Emily Arnold McCully

the-orphan-singerSet in Venice in the early eighteen hundreds, this book is a piece of history reincarnated. I had no idea that Venice’s musical past had anything to do with orphaned and abandoned girls.

Enter Mama and Papa Dolci, a gifted musical couple who barely had enough food, but sang from morning to night. Their young son, Antonio was also very talented, but Mama and Papa could not afford to send him for training. He was destined to become a basket maker, instead.

When baby Nina joins the family, her parents are ‘trilled’ to hear her giggling and cooing in harmony to Antonio’s singing.  With heavy hearts, Mama and Papa decide that the ospedalo is the best hope their daughter has for training and education. So, one night, they quietly leave Nina in the infant drawer at the ospedalo.

As Catarina (Nina) grows, believing she is an orphan, the Dolci’s visit her and listen to her singing.  A wonderful performer, Caterina gains many fans, but the Dolcis are always dearest to her. One night, only Papa Dolci comes to give a last farewell to ‘Catarina’ from Antonio, who has fallen very ill. Nina sets out to rescue Antonio with the greatest power for good she has at her disposal- her angelic voice.

I really enjoyed this beautifully written and illustrated picture book, as did my children. It reminded me a bit of Cari’s time as a music major and her efforts to study Music therapy. I highly recommend this book! Cari- you should definitely check it out!


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