Harp Song


48 pages
ISBN 0-88878-331-0
DDC jC813'.54




Illustrations by Mavis Andrews

Elizabeth St. Jacques is the author of Echoes All Strung Out and
Survivors: The Great Depression, 1929-1939.


This story is set in British Columbia, where Coraan Brennan, a talented
harpist, and her best friend Francesca, who plays the flute, decide that
their high-school science project will be to find out if music has any
effect on growing plants. During the course of their research, Coraan
discovers that music not only helps plants to flourish, but also heals
deep emotional wounds and builds strong friendships. Later, she
discovers even more wonderful qualities of music; at Haro Strait,
several unique experiences with the graceful Orca whales leave her with
a profound appreciation for the powerful, magical effect that music has
on all living things. Coraan “had seen music turn hunger into
nourishment, grief into joy, and loneliness into belonging.”

This story is beautifully written, and the richness of detail about
humans, plants, whales, and music indicates that Andrea de Cosmos has
done her homework. Scenes are vivid and colorful, transitions are
splendidly smooth, and suspense is maintained throughout. On occasion,
the dialogue seems somewhat forced, but, for the most part, it and the
characters are believable. What is especially impressive is that every
character with a disability (one of whom is Coraan’s boyfriend) is
portrayed as a genuine human being, and elders are respected, but
realistically. In fact, this entire story—right down to Coraan’s
experiences with the whales—is a realistic read, rich in language and

This deeply touching and well-planned story, which is enhanced by Mavis
Andrews’s lovely artwork, deserves songs of praise from the givers of
Canada’s top awards. Highly recommended.


De Cosmos, Andrea., “Harp Song,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 21, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/20683.