Music Books for Children: General




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Claude Clement, The Voice of the Wood. Puffin, 1993; ISBN-13: 978-0140545944

"In this enchanting Venetian folktale, an old musical instrument-maker finally captures the harmony of nature . . .

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In this enchanting Venetian folktale, an old musical instrument-maker finally captures the harmony of nature, creating a cello that contains both the power of the tree it came from and the sweetness of the birds that used to sing in the tree's branches. An American Bookseller Pick of the Lists and New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing. Full-color illustrations.

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Leo Dillon
Leo and Diane Dillon, Jazz on a Saturday Night. Blue Sky Press, 2007; ISBN-13: 978-0590478939

"Ladies and gents, what a jam this will be— an evening of jazz immortality!" And how! John Coltrane and Charlie Parker on sax, Thelonious Monk on piano, vocals by Ella Fitzgerald, trumpet by Miles Davis, drums by Max Roach, Stanley Clarke on bass! The audience is captivated and carried along..."

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From School Library Journal: (Kindergarten-Grade 4) "Ladies and gents, what a jam this will be— an evening of jazz immortality!" And how! John Coltrane and Charlie Parker on sax, Thelonious Monk on piano, vocals by Ella Fitzgerald, trumpet by Miles Davis, drums by Max Roach, Stanley Clarke on bass! The audience is captivated and carried along on "a river of melody sketched in dim light" in this rhythmic tribute to traditional jazz. The spreads, graphic-styled paintings rendered in deep matte tones with a suggestion of collage, switch between stage and audience, with swirling background patterns portraying the flow of music. The growing excitement of this jazz extravaganza is perfectly complemented by the joyful rhyming text: "Repeat on the beat/when Max Roach keeps the heat/on his drums, rhythm thrums,/makes you jump in your seat." The first track on the accompanying CD is an introduction to jazz. Each instrument in the book is highlighted individually, followed by the second track, a recording of the original song "Jazz on a Saturday Night." The Dillons' lyrics comprise part of the book's text, and the number features each of the instruments riffing solo and then the ensemble jamming together. The book opens with a one-page overview of jazz and concludes with biographical snapshots of the featured musicians. A splendid read-aloud/listen-along multisensory title, Jazz is an interdisciplinary workhorse, perfect for music, art, movement, poetry, social studies, and language-arts classes. Pair it with the Dillons' Rap a Tap Tap: Here's Bojangles, Think of That (Live Oak Media, 2005) for a rhythmic explosion of sight, sound, and word. -Joyce Adams Burner, Hillcrest Library, Prairie Village, KS

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george-warren
Holly George-Warren, Honky-Tonk Heroes and Hillbilly Angels: The Pioneers of Country and Western Music. Houghton Mifflin, 2006; ISBN-13: 978-0618191000

"Concise but thorough, this picture book discusses the evolution of a distinctive American music style through a chronicle of its biggest stars..."

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From School Library Journal: (Grade 3-5) Concise but thorough, this picture book discusses the evolution of a distinctive American music style through a chronicle of its biggest stars. After a lively introduction to the history of Country and Western music from its beginnings in 19th-century folk songs to the present, the author highlights 20th-century artists from the Grand Ole Opry, honky-tonks, western swing, and rock and roll. Each artist or group receives a full-page treatment opposite an illustration. The Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, Roy Acuff, Gene Autry, Ernest Tubb, and Bill Monroe are all featured for their performances or their introduction of unique sounds: guitar leads, hillbilly yodels, Hollywood films, electric guitar, and the string-band blues and gospel mix of the Kentucky Bluegrass sound. Bob Wills and his country swing music, Kitty Wells's empathy for women's issues, Hank Williams's pop chart hits, Patsy Cline's Nashville Sound with small orchestras and background singers, Buck Owens's Bakersfield Sound of rockin' Country and Western, the solo sounds of Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, George Jones, and Johnny Cash all receive individual entries that define their talents, personal history, and professional accomplishments. Colorful, stylized, folk art of the performers and/or their instruments is included. -Mary Elam, Forman Elementary School, Plano, TX

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hyde
Heidi Smith Hyde, Mendel’s Accordian. Kar-Ben Publishing, 2007; ISBN-13: 978-1580132121

"This gentle, picture-book history of klezmer music may have difficulty finding an audience. Mendel plays the accordion and forms a traveling band, but when life gets difficult in the old country, he leaves for America..."

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From School Library Journal: (Pre-School-Grade 2) This gentle, picture-book history of klezmer music may have difficulty finding an audience. Mendel plays the accordion and forms a traveling band, but when life gets difficult in the old country, he leaves for America. On the way, he meets other musicians and starts a new group. In New York, he marries and has children and grandchildren, who love different kinds of music. Finally, his great-grandson finds the old instrument in the attic and has it fixed, and a new generation of klezmorim emerges. The text is unremarkable and lacks transitions in places; but the simple language is accessible and makes the complex story of immigration comprehensible for a young audience. The attractive folksy watercolor illustrations move the story along effectively and capture life in the various settings. The characters are representative of Jewish culture without being caricatures; the joy of music is clear on their faces. An endnote discusses immigration, klezmer music and its resurgence, and the history of the accordion. Libraries that serve large Jewish populations may find this specialized piece of historical fiction useful; however, it is an additional purchase for most collections. -Amy Lilien-Harper, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT

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Kuskin
Karla Kuskin, The Philharmonic Gets Dressed (Reading Rainbow Book). HarperTrophy, 1986; ISBN-13: 978-0064431248

"It is almost Friday night. Outside, the dark is getting darker," and here and there around the city ninety-two men and thirteen women are getting dressed to go to work...."

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"It is almost Friday night. Outside, the dark is getting darker," and here and there around the city ninety-two men and thirteen women are getting dressed to go to work. First they bathe and put on their underwear. Then they don special black-and-white apparel. Then when the one hundred and five people are completely ready, each takes a musical instrument and travels to midtown. There, at 8:30 tonight, they will work together: playing.

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krull
Kathleen Krull, Lives of the Musicians: Good Times, Bad Times (And What the Neighbors Thought). Harcourt, 1993; ISBN-13: 978-0152480103

"Bravo! A collective biography that is informative and fun to read. Krull has compiled an enjoyable assortment of sketches on 16 famous musical giants that will have readers rushing to the stereo..."

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From School Library Journal: (Grade 4-8) Bravo! A collective biography that is informative and fun to read. Krull has compiled an enjoyable assortment of sketches on 16 famous musical giants that will have readers rushing to the stereo. In three or four pages each, such masters as Vivaldi, Mozart, Beethoven, and Tchaikovsky; popular composers such as Gilbert and Sullivan, Joplin, and Gershwin; and even folk hero Woody Guthrie are profiled. Gossipy, nitty-gritty personal habits and quirks are presented, along with a sense of appreciation for the musicians' lives and times. Hewitt's full-page caricatures are surrounded by important details. In subdued but striking colors, she captures the personality and temperament of these composers. This is a humorous, delightful, appreciative treat. While it doesn't have enough information for reports, it's a fine, personalized way to introduce children to the creators of great works that are a part of every music curriculum. The book has a helpful list of musical terms, an index, and an excellent bibliography. It belongs in every library and on every music teacher's desk. -Beth Tegart, Oneida City Schools, NY

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lach
William Lach, Can You Hear It?. Abrams Books, 2006; ISBN-13: 978-0810957213

"This visual and aural feast invites parents, educators, and young listeners to "listen and look" at 13 examples of pictorial music and visual masterpieces..."

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From School Library Journal: (Grade 2Ė6) This visual and aural feast invites parents, educators, and young listeners to "listen and look" at 13 examples of pictorial music and visual masterpieces. The introduction prepares readers with an explanation of the connections between composers' notes and art images. A woodblock print by Utagawa Hiroshige, the pointillism of Seurat, and landscapes by Jacob van Ruisdael and Thomas Cole are among those included in the presentation. The paired examples invite listeners to identify solo instruments or orchestral themes that characterize an image found in the visual art, e.g., "Can you hear the gun battles?" in a pairing of a Remington painting with Aaron Copeland's Billy the Kid: Gun Battle. Although seven of the musical pieces are by either Vivaldi or Saint-SaŽns, the recordings of works by Gershwin, Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Copland reflect a broad range of artists and orchestral styles from America and Europe. This treasure completes a larger unit of study or simply gives pleasure with a presentation of inspired works in dual media for children's appreciation. -Mary Elam, Forman Elementary School, Plano, TX

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levine
Robert Levine, Story of the Orchestra: Listen While You Learn About the Instruments, the Music and the Composers Who Wrote the Music! Har/Com Edition, 2000; ISBN-13: 978-1579121488

"Orchestra Bob guides readers through a delightful musical journey. The book is divided into two major parts: composers from Vivaldi to Bernstein and their associated musical periods, and the instruments of the orchestra..."

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From School Library Journal: (Grades 4-8) Orchestra Bob guides readers through a delightful musical journey. The book is divided into two major parts: composers from Vivaldi to Bernstein and their associated musical periods, and the instruments of the orchestra. There are interesting and sometimes humorous bits of information about the men, their music, and corresponding historical events. The last two pages introduce the conductor. Quotations, boxed definitions, and the captions that accompany the colorful photos and spot cartoon drawings enhance the instructive text. In some places, however, the drawings are in stark contrast to the photos and take away from the overall appearance of a page. An accompanying CD provides musical selections for readers to listen to at specific places in the text. These selections are short enough to keep young listeners' attention. Although some well-known figures, such as Handel, Schubert, and Strauss, are missing, this is a fun way to travel through the world of music. -Susan Shaver, Hemingford Public Schools, NE

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moss
Lloyd Moss, Music is. Putnam, 2003; ISBN-13: 978-0399233364

"After singing the praises of an orchestra in Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin (S & S, 1995) and a band in Our Marching Band (Putnam, 2001), Moss now extols the joys of music itself. In rhyming text, he explains that music is important because it appears in all aspects of our lives..."

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From School Library Journal: (Pre-School-Grade 3) After singing the praises of an orchestra in Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin (S & S, 1995) and a band in Our Marching Band (Putnam, 2001), Moss now extols the joys of music itself. In rhyming text, he explains that music is important because it appears in all aspects of our lives, from the mundane "music in the elevator,/sometimes music on the phone" to the exciting "Brass or strings, when played with brio,/lift my spirits to the sky." Many different forms are mentioned, including orchestral and opera, and several of the terms and names will need some adult explanation. ("Verdi, Humperdinck, Puccini;/opera is such a thrill./Those by Bizet and Rossini please me,/and they always will.") However, the author's passion for his subject is clearly felt and expressed. The illustrations, with their elongated, cartoonlike figures and shapes, are dominated by slightly muted shades of blue, red, green, and peach. The placement of the text on the page often reinforces the mood of the message or words. The names of opera composers appear slightly larger, as if sung loudly toward an audience, and the words describing dance seem to skip along the bottom of the page with the dancing feet. This is a great read-aloud that can be paired with Moss's earlier books or with Karla Kuskin's The Philharmonic Gets Dressed (HarperCollins, 1982). -Jane Marino, Scarsdale Public Library, NY

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moss2
Lloyd Moss, Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin. Simon and Schuster, 1995; ISBN-13: 978-0671882396

"Layout, design, illustrations, and descriptive verses blend in perfect harmony to give voice to the unique sounds of 10 orchestral instruments..."

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From School Library Journal: (Kindergarten-Grade 5) Layout, design, illustrations, and descriptive verses blend in perfect harmony to give voice to the unique sounds of 10 orchestral instruments. Readers meet the "Fine FRENCH HORN, its valves all oiled/Bright and brassy, loops all coiled," and the "FLUTE that sends our soul a-shiver;/ FLUTE, that slender, silver sliver." One by one as the numbers progress from ONE TROMBONE playing SOLO all the way up to "A CHAMBER GROUP of TEN," the excitement, motion, and sounds increase. Priceman's amusing watercolors present an inspired assortment of characters who pose, prance, and float across the page and stage, their seeming wildness giving form to each instrument's function, as their exaggerated features and elongated limbs give them a sophisticated wit and elegant air. The rich, swirling background colors change with each double-page spread. As the numbers of players grow, the proscenium and curtain become more and more of a presence until viewers find themselves facing the concert group, and then onstage behind the musicians, who are facing the audience, taking a bow. A delight for music classes as well as a great introduction to the concert hall, this title will surely be met with applause. -Jane Marino, Scarsdale Public Library, NY

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myers
Walter Dean Myers and Christopher Myers, Blues Journey. Holiday House, 2003; ISBN-13: 978-0823416134

"'Blues, what you mean to me?/ Are you my pain and misery,/or my sweet, sweet company?' The opening verse of this latest father/son collaboration probes the very essence of a form-and a feeling; it asks the question that anyone who has sought solace in music can relate to..."

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From School Library Journal: (Grade 4 and up) "Blues, what you mean to me?/ Are you my pain and misery,/or my sweet, sweet company?" The opening verse of this latest father/son collaboration probes the very essence of a form-and a feeling; it asks the question that anyone who has sought solace in music can relate to. The pair's first composition wandered through a Harlem collage (Scholastic, 1997), depicting "-a call, a song- the mood indigo- a language of darkness-." This new duet is the blues: verbally and visually, it explores the idiom while exemplifying it. A call and response accompanies each painting. The poetry is given a variety of voices by the ever-changing cast and settings: three figures in a horse-drawn cart on a lonely road; two children sitting on a curb-one crying, the other comforting; workers in a chain gang; a brother and sister sharing a bed, head to toe. The tightly controlled, yet endlessly surprising palette consists of blue (ink), white (paint), and brown (paper bags). Many of the bodies and backgrounds are literally blue, with white highlights. This chilling effect is tempered by the warm texture of the brown bags. As the journey progresses, the lyrics and art look at loss through the lenses of slavery, poverty, lynching, love spurned, fear of dying-and of living. An author's note provides a lucid description of the history, elements, and importance of the blues. Symbolism is explored in a glossary. Artist and author push the idiom-and the picture book-to new dimensions. Their song will slide through readers' ears and settle into their souls. -Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library

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Laura Amy Schlitz
Laura Amy Schlitz, Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village. Candlewick Press, 2007; ISBN-13: 978-0763615789

"Schlitz (The Hero Schliemann ) wrote these 22 brief monologues to be performed by students at the school where she is a librarian; here, bolstered by lively asides and unobtrusive notes, and illuminated by Byrd's (Leonardo, Beautiful Dreamer) stunningly atmospheric watercolors, they bring to life a prototypical English village . . ."

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From Publishers Weekly Starred Review. Schlitz (The Hero Schliemann ) wrote these 22 brief monologues to be performed by students at the school where she is a librarian; here, bolstered by lively asides and unobtrusive notes, and illuminated by Byrd's (Leonardo, Beautiful Dreamer) stunningly atmospheric watercolors, they bring to life a prototypical English village in 1255. Adopting both prose and verse, the speakers, all young, range from the half-wit to the lord's daughter, who explains her privileged status as the will of God. The doctor's son shows off his skills ("Ordinary sores/ Will heal with comfrey, or the white of an egg,/ An eel skin takes the cramping from a leg"); a runaway villein (whose life belongs to the lord of his manor) hopes for freedom after a year and a day in the village, if only he can calculate the passage of time; an eel-catcher describes her rough infancy: her "starving poor [father] took me up to drown in a bucket of water." (He relents at the sight of her "wee fingers" grasping at the sides of the bucket.) Byrd, basing his work on a 13th-century German manuscript, supplies the first page of each speaker's text with a tone-on-tone patterned border overset with a square miniature. Larger watercolors, some with more intricate borders, accompany explanatory text for added verve. The artist does not channel a medieval style; rather, he mutes his palette and angles some lines to hint at the period, but his use of cross-hatching and his mostly realistic renderings specifically welcome a contemporary readership. Ages 10-up.

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siberell
Anne Siberell, Bravo! Brava! A Night at the Opera: Behind the Scenes with Composers, Cast, and Crew. Oxford University Press, 2001; ISBN-13: 978-0195139662

"Filled with detailed explanations and entertaining trivia, this clearly written, lively book introduces readers to the world of opera from curtain opening to curtain call..."

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From School Library Journal: (Grade 4-8) Filled with detailed explanations and entertaining trivia, this clearly written, lively book introduces readers to the world of opera from curtain opening to curtain call. Siberell offers a broad framework for understanding the genre by posing a series of questions such as: "How did opera begin?" "Who writes the words, and who writes the music?" and "Who holds an opera performance together?" Readers can also find out about costuming, makeup, set design, and the production of realistic-looking "weather." Sidebars contain additional nuggets, and there are concise summaries of 27 opera plots. Siberell keeps the tone light with whimsical pen-and-ink and watercolor drawings and diagrams in delicate hues. An excellent resource for reports, this unusual book has an exceptional range of topics for younger students and is an essential purchase for upper elementary and middle school music programs. -Mary Elam, Forman Elementary School, Plano, TX

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