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Lang Lang: Playing with Flying Keys [Kindle Edition]

Lang Lang , Michael French
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $7.99
Kindle Price: $5.99
You Save: $2.00 (25%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

HE STARTED LEARNING to play the piano when he was three years old in Shenyang, China. Today he is one of the world’s most outstanding pianists. In this engrossing life story, adapted by Michael French, Lang Lang not only recounts the difficult, often thrilling, events of his early days, but also shares his perspective on his rapidly changing homeland. He thoughtfully explores the differences between East and West, especially in the realm of classical music and cultural life. Shining through his rags-to-riches story of a child prodigy who came of age as a renowned musician, Lang Lang’s positive spirit, his dynamic personality, and his enduring passion for music will inspire readers of all ages. Includes a 16-page photo insert.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 6–9—Winning his first piano competition in his native China at age five, Lang Lang had only one thought in mind from the beginning: to be "Number One." While his accolades have been many, his trials have been equally numerous, for he was forced to spend most of his childhood away from his kind and loving mother and under the ever-watchful eye of his strict father. He suffered tremendous homesickness and had to learn to cope with situations far beyond those normal for his chronological age in order to realize his dream of being an internationally known pianist on the classical circuit. This boy wonder explains his life as the pampered only child of parents who placed all of their hopes in him. His father definitely went over the edge, at one point even begging his 10-year-old son to overdose on pills because he had "lost face"—a part of the story that is sure to horrify readers. The book includes a glossary of Western composers with Lang Lang's personal commentary about their strengths and styles. Much like Li Cunxin's Mao's Last Dancer (Walker, 2008), this is the story of a young man determined to make something of himself, not only for his own sake, but also for the sake of his family. However, unlike the former, which places the personal story within the political context of Maoist China, Lang Lang is a totally personal tale. Nevertheless, because of the youthfulness of the author, his autobiography could serve as an additional purchase for libraries building modern-biography and/or Chinese-culture collections.—Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, LaSalle Academy, Providence, RI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Although he is only 26, Chinese-born Lang is recognized as one of the world’s most accomplished classical pianists. This smoothly paced, often rivetingly candid autobiography, written with Michael French, follows the musician through his first encounters with the keyboard and grueling training to his triumphant debut concerts with the Chicago Symphony. The musician addresses the intense pressures he experienced in full detail, and he vividly recounts his turbulent relationship with his father, whose inflexible expectation that his son “be the number one pianist in all of China. And then all the world” led to incidents of abuse and violence. Throughout, Lang honors the mentors who helped him develop his remarkable gift, and his revealing, humble account may inspire readers not only to apply themselves to their own talents but also to approach music with the openhearted passion that Lang writes about so convincingly. A map of China and a time line help round out this strong autobiography. Older readers might also be interested in Lang and David Ritz’s adult book, Journey of a Thousand Miles. Grades 7-10. --Gillian Engberg

Product Details

  • File Size: 670 KB
  • Print Length: 242 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0440422841
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (July 8, 2008)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #187,701 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book for kids February 27, 2009
Quite a good book. I have the other book as well. This book covers more events while the other book has more details.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dynamic, moving story September 6, 2008
Lang Lang was born in China in 1982: at three he began to learn piano; today he's one of the world's best pianists. His story of his rise from poverty to fame provides young adults in middle school grade levels with a moving biography, is co-written between Lang Lang and his adapter Michael French, and makes for a dynamic, moving story, highly recommended for any middle to high school collection strong in contemporary biography and autobiography or the arts.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too August 23, 2008
The name Lang Lang should be a household word by now. Performing in the Bird's Nest for the Opening Ceremony at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, over 34.9 million viewers in the U.S. alone tuned in to watch. For many, this was their first introduction to the musical phenomena from China. At only 26 years of age, Lang Lang has accomplished more than many twice his age.

Starting at a young age, when most of us aren't even out of diapers yet, Lang Lang showed an affinity for the piano. Not being able to reach the pedals, and needing pillows under him to reach the keys, Lang Lang was a prodigy.

Coming from a humble background from the city of Shenyang, located northeast of Beijing, the only chance of any future in classical piano for Lang Lang would come if he could gain acceptance to the conservatory in Beijing. But he would have to place in the top eight to win one of the precious scholarships. Lang Lang's family could ill afford for him to attend without the scholarship. His family had sacrificed everything for him to get this far. His father left his job in Shenyang to travel to Beijing to be with Lang Lang. Lang Lang's mother remained in Shenyang to be the breadwinner of the family and support both Lang Lang and his father.

Spurred by his father's demand to be the best and Number 1, Lang Lang enters piano competitions, aspiring to be the best in China, then Europe, and ultimately the world. After winning the prestigious Tchaikovsky prize in Japan, he is admitted to the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. While there, he continues his training, awaiting his lucky break into the world of classical piano.

LANG LANG: PLAYING WITH FLYING KEYS is a truly inspiring story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book ever! January 12, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
it tells quite the story of a man who chased his dreams and accomplished them beyond belief. I loved it!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent autobiography - great read for all ages! August 9, 2008
Lang Lang's story is one of struggle, sacrifice, conflict, and determination. In this autobiography, Lang Lang recounts his life the way he remembered it.

I loved reading this story because there was always something interesting on every page. Whether it was another conflict with his father or an upcoming competition, I could never find good place for me to stop reading. Therefore, I read the whole book in one sitting, and it was all worthwhile. I loved how he explained everything he felt at any given moment - I felt as though I am in Lang Lang's mind. His relationship with his father is an interesting one, but they always reconcile at the end. In my opinion, this book was not as emotional and moving as it could have been. There were many themes and motifs in the story that the author could have take more advantage of. For example, Lang Lang received a stuffed dog as a consolation price in an early competition (he finished 7th). Although he briefly mentioned it as his lucky symbol, I believe the message could have been a lot stronger had he mentioned it at the end of the book. Also, his father's standard pat on the back before every competition could have been used to a larger degree. Lang Lang spent a lot of time describing his childhood years, but not as much on his adult career (less than 20 pages). I would love to hear more about what he's doing as a professional pianist. But overall, I think Lang Lang did an excellent job sharing his story about the journey he took to become one of the best pianists in the world. This book is appropriate for readers of all ages - children and adults, and it will inspire all those who read it. I learned a very important lesson from this book, and it is that you can't succeed without hard work (in Lang Lang's case, hard work means six to eight hours of per day). If I were his father, I would be very, very proud.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book February 25, 2009
By Tara
Very great book I was moved a number of times by his description of the performances. You develop a love hate relationship with his father along with him on their journey. The book is a simple read using basic english for the younger reader but you get the overview of his journey. Quick read but worth it, it made me want to know more about him and be able to experience his music. I would read again.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Chinese pianist July 3, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Lang Lang is my favorite pianist of to- day and I enjoyed reading about his life as he grew up with all the hardships for him and his parents.
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