The Green Piano, written by five-time Grammy winner Roberta Flack together with Tonya Bolden, allows us to see how the extraordinary seed of her musical talent sprouted. From the start, she was planted in good soil: Her father played piano and harmonica, and her mother played both organ and piano at church.

Flack writes about her parents' pride as she used her elbows on the church piano at age three or four because her fingers were too short. Her dreams were even bigger. Hayden Goodman — a painter and editorial illustrator making her children's book debut — shows us a tiny Roberta Flack in front of the entire congregation playing hymns on the piano for the choir to sing while the preacher looks on — in her imagination, of course.

But Flack had no piano at home. She tells of her father's resourcefulness in restoring a junkyard piano, her own patient practice, and her mother's diligence in getting her to lessons. We were particularly struck by a remark made by her first piano teacher, Mrs. Hightower, to her mother when they were moving: "You must make sure Roberta continues her piano lessons when you get up there!" A simple moment of insight like that can change the world.

Of course Flack did continue, with dreams of becoming a concert pianist. A fascinating Author's Note tells the story in detail, including how she segued from classical piano to singing blues, rock, folk, soul, and jazz. A list of career highlights is also provided.

Children ages four to eight will eventually get to read or listen to this fuller story, but in the meantime, Flack's passion and determination as a child will bolster their own spirits as they look for their own seed of character to nurture. And they will have been introduced to a genuinely great soul.