27th November 2017
The Trouble in Tune Town
Written by Maura Pierlot
Released: August 2017
Book title: The Trouble in Tune Town
Author: Maura Pierlot
Illustrator: Sophie Norsa
Publisher: Little Steps (Sydney)
H/B: ISBN: 9781925545333
Intended Audience: 3-8 years
Dimensions: 280 x 220mm, 32pp
Tell us about yourself
I’ve been writing in some capacity all my life but mainly in a corporate/business setting – ads, medical news, speeches, essays. I always knew that one day I would return to creative writing, which I enjoyed in my student days, but it took a while to make that happen. About five years ago, I decided to take the leap, easier said than done when trying to extract myself from our family (property development) business. My first short story won third prize for the Charlotte Duncan Award, Celapene Press, which was heartening and told me I was on the right track. The Trouble in Tune Town, a music-themed picture book, is my first title. I was just announced as the recipient of the Charlotte Waring Barton Award and winner of the Aspiring Writers Mentorship Program 2017, a joint initiative of CBCA NSW and HarperCollins, for my unpublished YA novel, Freefalling. My short plays have been performed in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, with a few recently winning awards.
What is your book about?
The Trouble in Tune Town is a fun, imaginative fantasy, told in rhyme, featuring quirky characters like the music notes, which will appeal to children of all ages. When Meg, Tune Town’s best music performer struggles to learn a new song, she blames the music notes, who hop off the music sheet and run away, leaving Tune Town without any music! Will Meg find the notes and bring music back to Tune Town in time the big concert?
Who is your target audience for this book?
The target audience is children aged 3-8 although the universal themes will appeal to kids of all ages. Music-loving children who like playing, but not practising, their instruments will relate to the story’s implicit message: Practice should never be a fight. If you’re having fun, then you’re playing all right.
What aspects did you find challenging about this book?
I found it challenging to know when I was done! The book evolved over a few years, and I was happy with several earlier incarnations but in the end, the story worked best when it was simplified: one character, Meg, playing several instruments, and the notes taking off, then finding their way home with her help. I felt comfortable with the themes, words and rhyme but found the meter to be challenging in some sections. For several reasons, I opted for a partner publisher – a great decision but the process took much longer than I expected, partly because there were so many challenging elements – getting the music notes right, for example. Sophie Norsa’s wonderful illustrations really give life to the text and I couldn’t be happier with the end result.
What does your book offer the reader that differs from others covering similar subjects?
There aren’t many picture books with music themes and I don't know of any books on the market that tackle the thorny subject of music practice, so The Trouble in Tune Town is unique in that regard. But the story’s universal themes – belonging, worry, perseverance, joy, acceptance – will appeal to children generally, not just to those who are learning a musical instrument. Musical terms that appear in colour throughout the text are included in a glossary at the end of the book, providing support for music theory and musical role-play. The story also lends itself to dramatic and musical interpretation, and I’m hoping to adapt it soon for the stage.
How did the idea for this book come about?
My three very musical children, now teenagers (aged 16-19) inspired the book. Each had piano lessons for years but hating practising! In fact, music practice was an ongoing battle in our house and every family I knew was having the same struggle. For our kids, learning a new song was yet another obligation in a typically busy week filled with academic, sporting and co-curricular commitments. They had excellent music teachers but didn’t like learning ‘boring’ songs that had no personal appeal. Likewise, they bristled whenever the teacher flagged any wrong notes played. Our eldest drifted to jazz because (in his words) in that genre he’s ‘allowed to make mistakes’. The Trouble in Tune Town aims to put the fun back into learning and playing music, but also touches upon many important non-musical themes: never giving up, not striving for perfection, coping with worry and anxiety, and believing in yourself.
Find out more about Maura Pierlot
Publisher's website: www.littlesteps.com.au
Maura Pierlot is an aspiring author and playwright who writes for children – short stories, picture books and YA fiction – and also for the stage. Last year Maura won the SOLO Monologue Competition as part of the Write Around the Murray Festival. She's currently writing a series of dramatic monologues on mental health issues, supported by an MPS Travel+Tours Award from the Capital Arts Patrons’ Organisation. Maura was just announced as the winner of CBCA NSW/HarperCollins Aspiring Writers Mentorship Program 2017 and recipient of the Charlotte Waring Barton Award. A former medical journalist, ethics advisor and small business owner, Maura has a PhD in philosophy (ethics) and enjoys writing about memory, perception and identity. Maura hails from New York but has lived in Canberra for over 25 years. When she’s not building a world for her characters, or grappling with big ideas, she likes to travel and learn new things, and spend time with family and friends.
The Trouble in Tune Town is available for sale at Booktopia and other online booksellers or directly via Maura’s websites: maurapierlot.com and thetroubleintunetown.com for $24.95 including postage. Direct orders will receive the e-book edition at no cost (sent to the email address provided with their paypal order).