The White Ravens Database

Presented by   Internationale Jugendbibliothek / International Youth Library

Spanish / Venezuela

La máquina de sorpresas

(The machine of surprises)

Alcántara, Mariana (text/illus.)
Caracas: Cyls Editores, 2017. – [50] p.
ISBN 978-980-6573-22-2

Music  | Creativity  | Listening  | Picture book

Reading age: 7+

White Ravens issue: 2019


To compose the most beautiful music of all time – this is what is promised in the user’s manual of a one-of-its-kind machine, which the story’s narrator received from an unknown sender. He eagerly tries to coax a “universal melody” out of it. If only it were that simple! The contraption spits out spaghetti instead of musical notes, which flood the room and spill onto the street. Subsequent tries fail, too. The machine produces white dice, shoes, buttons, and words, but still no melody. Silence is the key, ultimately – silence that one experiences consciously, which one listens into and makes one attentive to sounds like the cracking of an egg or the stirring of a spoon in a teacup. Universal music emerges from these sounds that everyone understands. Mariana Alcántara illustrates her story about sound, music, and listening with panache and exuberant imagination. Her pictures capture the whole range of the “machine of surprises”, brim full or almost empty, brightly coloured or black and white, with bold strokes or faint, fine lines.