Aven Green Music Machine by Dusti Bowling

with charming illustrations throughout by Gina Perry.

I picked up this book at ALAAC and 100% did not notice that the titular heroine does not have arms, despite the many illustrations inside and out pertaining to it, till she actually mentions it herself in the course of the first-person narrative. To a large extent, that’s one of the primary charms of this book, that Aven’s lack of arms is just a matter of fact, and that while her adventures are complicated by not having them, that latter trait isn’t what defines her as a person.

In this third installment of the chapter book series, Aven is excited for her class’ upcoming Talent Day, as she’s decided that she’s going to become a Professional Musician. Trouble is, she’s not sure exactly what instrument she’ll play, having never actually played one before. She’s pretty sure she’s going to be amazing at it when she finally does tho! Alas she soon discovers, as most of us inevitably must, that learning to play an instrument is nowhere near as easy as she thought it would be.

Following along as Aven not only explores musicianship but also navigates what to do when a friend hurts her feelings is a true delight in this smart, sassy book for young readers. Picking and learning an instrument is hard, as this book realistically shows. I’m hoping that reading this will make my eldest feel better about not yet finding the right instrument for himself either — it’s certainly a more fun way for him to learn the lesson of not giving up than having to listen to dear old mom telling him of my own struggles through years of piano and guitar (among other instruments) before finally finding my beloved cello.

While Aven’s can-do attitude makes for inspirational reading, it’s her believably wry eight year-old observations that really engage the reader as she and her awesome parents figure out the right instrument for her. Tbh, the book had me (and my kids) at the first page reference to “Raining Tacos”, a staple earworm in my household.

This is a wonderfully written book with terrific representation of people with physical disabilities, that’s never mawkish or othering. Even my reluctant medium-sized readers enjoyed reading this with a little help from me, tho I’m still waiting on feedback from the eldest, who is growing increasingly hostile to the idea of reading for fun the closer the start of school looms. Hopefully, he gets over this quickly and finds Aven Green as awesome as I did.

Aven Green Music Machine by Dusti Bowling was published August 23 2022 by Union Square Kids and is available from all good booksellers, including

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