Gus and Grandpa and the Piano Lesson

illustrated by Catherine Stock (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004)
ISBN-10: 0374328145
ISBN-13: 978-0374328146

For Gus, the longest half hour of the day is spent practicing the piano. Why can't he be outside, shooting hoops with Ryan Mason? Even more painful are the lessons: Mrs. Moore complains about Gus's squishy fingers. But most painful of all is the piano recital. Gus has to play a piece called "The Horse Race," and he's not sure he will remember it. Luckily, Grandpa arrives with his old violin to help Gus and his parents find the fun in making music together.

About the Gus and Grandpa Series

Published: 2004

Gus and Grandpa and the Piano Lesson


A strong addition to a popular series, this story will capture the imagination and interest of anyone who has ever taken music lessons. Although he'd rather shoot hoops with his friend, Gus spends the required half-hour practicing the piano. With Grandpa's gentle encouragement, the boy makes it through his recital, but only comes to truly love playing the instrument when his family puts together an impromptu band later that day. The delightful relationships among the characters add to the charm of the book. The loving bond between Gus and his grandfather is apparent through their words and actions, and also through the soft, comforting illustrations. The interaction between Gus and his mother as she monitors his practice session rings true. Mills uses amusing metaphors and clever wordplay throughout the text. In the end, Gus learns that sometimes doing your best makes family members just as proud of you, if not more so, than when you demonstrate perfection. An engaging easy-reader.
- School Library Journal, Anne L. Tormohlen, Deerfield Elementary School, Lawrence, KS

Gus knows that practice makes perfect, but the truth is, the half hour he has to practice piano is the longest half hour of his day. In the tenth story in Mills' Gus and Grandpa series of chapter books, beginning readers follow Gus' path from reluctant piano student to nervous recital performer to family band member. In the happy grand finale, the whole family (including Grandpa on the violin) plays a song called "The Horse Race," and Gus finally understands what it means to have "music in his fingers." Stock's lovely, expressive, watercolor and pencil artwork perfectly complement this story about the joy of playing music and the reward of hard work. Plentiful illustrations, a large font, big margins, short sentences, and simple vocabulary ensure a reader-friendly experience, especially for children who are familiar with the agony and ecstasy of music lessons.
- Booklist, Karin Snelson