Young Anton of Saint Petersburg, Russia begins and ends his day with music … he wakes remembering the notes of the ballet Swan Lake which he saw the night before, and drifts off to sleep that evening as his grandmother plays another Swan song at the family’s piano.
Music dominates Anton’s life, from the specialized music school he attends, to his violin lessons followed by his violin ensemble practice, to his mini-performance for his appreciative grandmother after dinner. In between, he visits the legendary Hermitage Museum with his class, helps his mother pick up a few groceries on the way home from school, plays soccer in the hall with a friend, and enjoys dinner with his family.
Anton’s story is somewhat of a departure from the other girls and boys who populate the expanding around-the-world, bilingual I See the Sun series from New England boutique press Satya House Publications: compared to his series’ counterparts, Anton is perhaps the most privileged. While “his parents work long days to provide for their family,” they have access to cultural luxuries that the series’ other children thus far have not, including visits to the ballet and opera, musical instruments at home, even a dacha – a “small country cabin … where they can relax on weekends and vacations in the summer.”
As with the series’ other titles, Russia concludes with a thorough contextual afterword; this one offers a cultural overview of Saint Petersburg, with an emphasis on the arts as a “powerful force.” When the going gets tough, especially in our Stateside schools, arts and music programs usually become the first victims of funding cuts. Anton’s life proves to be a subtle, cross-cultural reminder from the other side of the world to invest in making beautiful music together, with and for our children.