Best friends Shai and Emmie, two third graders destined for superstardom, plan a benefit concert to help stray animals in this third novel in the Shai & Emmie series from Academy Award–nominated actress Quvenzhané Wallis.
Shai, Emmie, and the rest of the student orchestra are busy preparing for a benefit concert to help stray pets—a cause near and dear to Shai’s heart. So when she finds a tiny bunny alone in her backyard, Shai is determined to do what her mom would do: rescue the bunny and find it a good home! But the bunny rescue project is far more work than she imagined, and soon Shai doesn’t have any time left to practice for the benefit concert…
Shai & Emmie Star in To the Rescue! SCENE 1 G for “Goose” Shai Williams positioned her fingers on the clarinet. Its name was Clara the Clarinet (although Shai had been thinking about changing the name to Sadie or maybe Kennedy). She closed her lips over the mouthpiece, tucked her chin, and made laser eyes at the conductor’s baton. The other musicians in the orchestra were watching the baton too.
The conductor, Mr. Yee, scanned their faces. He nodded and smiled. Then he breathed in quickly and raised the baton. This meant: Let’s all get ready to play the first note!
A second later he breathed out quickly and lowered the baton. This meant: Time to play the first note!
Shai blew into the mouthpiece eagerly. Her first note was a G. Or it was supposed to be a G, anyway. It sounded more like a goose honking.
G for “Goose,” she thought unhappily. G for “I Goofed Gigantically.” She tried to adjust the note with her breath, but the harder she tried, the more gooselike it sounded.
Mr. Yee cleared his throat and dropped his baton hand to his side. Everyone stopped playing. “Let’s try that again. Woodwinds, maybe a little less air?” he said, not looking at Shai. He was a nice person that way, not singling her out even though she’d been the only person in the woodwind section—the clarinets plus the flutes—to make a mistake.
Emmie Harper turned around in her seat; she sat up front with the other cellos. She gave Shai a big braces smile. She had just gotten braces, which she was not thrilled about, because she was no longer allowed to eat her favorite snack, nacho-cheese-flavored popcorn.
Shai waved to Emmie. Emmie waved back and made a goofy, wiggly-eyebrows face. Shai giggled; her bestie-best friend always knew how to cheer her up! Shai started to make a goofy face back, then stopped when she realized that Mr. Yee had raised his baton again.
“Let’s take it from the top,” he said. “From the top” was fancy music language for “from the beginning.”
Shai made her face become very serious as she resumed her clarinet-playing position. Fingers, lips, chin, laser eyes.
Mr. Yee’s baton went up, then down. This time Shai hit the G note perfectly!
The orchestra continued with the piece, which was called “Opportunity.” The piece was usually played by older musicians, but Mr. Yee had written a new, easier version. It was just the right level for the Sweet Auburn Student Orchestra, which was made up of third, fourth, and fifth graders.
Shai, Emmie, and the other orchestra members attended the Sweet Auburn School for the Performing Arts. It was a school for kids who might want to become professional musicians, dancers, or actors someday. They took classes in music, dance, and drama, plus regular subjects like math, English, science, history, and foreign languages. Mr. Yee was their music teacher as well as the boss of the orchestra.
Shai was most interested in the drama part of the school. She planned to be an actor—and also a veterinarian like her mom. And a dentist, too, because teeth were pretty much the coolest things ever. She liked dance and music, although she couldn’t imagine herself as a professional dancer or clarinet player. But who knew? Her grandma Rosa liked to remind her that she was only eight, and she might change her mind a whole bunch of times before she was an adult!
Quvenzhané Wallis knows a thing or two about creating memorable characters. For her feature film debut, Beasts of the Southern Wild, she was nominated for an Academy Award. Shortly after, she received a Golden Globe nomination for her work as the title character in Annie. She has also appeared in 12 Years a Slave, The Prophet, and Fathers and Daughters. Quvenzhané is a daughter, a sister, a model, a singer, a dancer, an actress, an author, a student, and a pet owner. She has many talents and is always willing to try something new. She lives in Louisiana with her family. She is the author of the Shai and Emmie series and A Night Out with Mama.
Sharee Miller is an illustrator living in Brooklyn. She grew up on the island of St. Thomas before leaving to study at Pratt Institute in New York, where she earned a BFA in illustration. Though she remained in New York, she is still very much inspired by the colors and patterns of St. Thomas. Learn more at ShareeMiller.com.
"Readers will relate to Shai and Emmie’s friendship and the musical aspects of this book, namely the need to practice in order to improve. Also worthy of note is the lesson Shai and Emmie learn about the different needs of wild animals versus pets....Another installment that will hook young readers and keep them coming back for more."