In a colorful kingdom of anthropomorphic animals, Arietta the cat makes new friends as she learns to follow her dreams.

Arietta, a white cat with pink and purple accents and luminous green eyes, is sadly preparing to sell her treasured family violin at the Castle Market. She supports herself with the family garden and needs money to buy seeds, but she feels that selling the violin means losing part of her family’s heritage. When Princess Cassia, a long-eared, brown rabbit sees the violin, she is delighted and invites Arietta to play at the upcoming royal concert. Arietta recklessly agrees, even though she’s never played, and gets lessons from Emily, a fluffy sheep and close friend.

As Arietta becomes more absorbed in her music, her garden begins to suffer from neglect, and she is deeply conflicted about which part of her family’s legacy to honor—their garden or their music—and what she herself wants to make her priority and what is most fulfilling for her.

Cute, fluffy animals abound, all with blushes of pink and violet, against a background of jewel-toned greens and blues. The animals have large, sparkling eyes of green, blue, and brown and wear accessories like aprons, collars, jewelry and scarves, with only the royal family and their bodyguards in full clothing. Music is shown in curving bands of notes and pastel shades that twist among the trees and buildings. Arietta’s garden thrives with flowers and fruit, and even when neglected shows only a few drooping flowers and some dropped fruit. The characters have a manga-like excitement, yelling their emotions with exaggerated cartoon faces when things go wrong, especially Arietta as she is caught between her new love for music and her family garden.

The plot of the story is slight, mostly a vehicle for the animals to discuss their feelings about art and creative expression. It’s very much a wish-fulfillment story—it’s never explained how Arietta will support herself after she gives up the garden that supplies her with food and income—and she quickly becomes an expert musician after only a few months of dedicated practice.

Adults may be exasperated with the “follow your dreams and do what makes you happy” message, without any practical advice to back it up, but young readers who enjoy sweet and cute art and want a feel-good, Disney-esque story will enjoy this slight volume. The strong friendship between the three females, each with a very different personality and background, is a bonus and Arietta’s struggles to reconcile the different legacies from her family, although easily resolved, are heart-felt.


Song of the Court
By Katy Farina
ISBN: 9781454933014
Sterling, 2020
Publisher Age Rating: 6-8
Series ISBNS and Order

Title Details and Representation
NFNT Age Recommendation: Middle Grade (7-11)

  • Jennifer

    | She/Her Youth Services Librarian, Matheson Memorial Library

    Reviewer

    Jennifer Wharton is the Youth Services Librarian at Matheson Memorial Library in Elkhorn, Wisconsin where she maintains the juvenile and young adult graphic novel collections and was responsible for creating the library’s adult graphic novel collection. She is constantly looking for great new comics for kids and teens and new ways to incorporate graphic storytelling in programming. Jennifer blogs for preschool through middle grade at JeanLittleLibrary and has an MLS from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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