The Musician | Xuefeng Liu


The Musician by Xuefeng Liu

Illustrated by Gunter Grossholz and Yuxi Wan

Out now from Reycraft Books; 32 pages

About the Author: “Xuefeng Liu is a music commentator and graduate of Peking University. Since 1996, he has edited the classical music column for several magazines and has published many books.” (Bio taken from the book.)

About the Illustrators: “Gunter Grossholz is a German animation artist and professor at the Film Academy Baden-Württemberg and Universität Stuttgart. His work has been awarded more than thirty international awards from the U.S., Germany, Italy, and Holland.”

“Yuxi Wan is an animation director, picture book producer, and painter, whose work includes picture books such as Machine Animals.” (Bios both taken from the book.)

“Today in China, a close friendship is called zhiyin. The word means ‘understanding the music’.”

A young man named Yu Boya beautifully plays the guqin to many captive audiences across ancient China—including officials, nobles, and even the king’s horses. He adores playing music in nature, finding the beautiful settings of rivers, plains, and starry night skies to be deeply inspirational. But one night, on the evening of the Moon Festival, Boya meets a curious woodcutter, and speaks to the kind-hearted man. The two form an incredible bond of friendship over a joint love of music, and Boya learns that some audiences are more special than others. The Musician tells the story of an age-old Chinese folktale about the ideal friendship. 

The gorgeous details of this picture book utterly grasped at my heartstrings. The cool tones of the watercolor style illustrations balanced perfectly with the written story’s pacing. There were many beautiful illustrations of nature scenes, and I especially loved the range of water illustrations—from dark, stormy seas to peaceful little streams. The emotions in the book were also well conveyed in such a brief amount of pages. I was impressed by how much I could empathize with Boya, through both his incredible joy and his deep sense of sadness and longing. The pure friendship between the two men was so warm to read about—the love and belonging they felt with each others’ companionship is something rare in a friendship. For a breathtaking book about love, friendship, and the joys of music, pick up a copy of The Musician

PRR Assistant Director, Grace Kennedy