M Is For Music
Be it lullabies, folk songs, singing ABC’s or opera, music influences our children’s lives. Music unites, teaches, shares stories, and shapes personalities. Note by note, this collection of titles will encourage your children to read about music, its composers and performers. A word of caution: reading these books may lead your children to start using pots and pans as drums or bursting into song without warning.
Ages: Infant - 5 yrs.
Author: Joyce Carol Thomas Illustrator: Brenda Jay Smith
Hyperion Books for Children, $15.99 (Hard Cover)
This is a lovely way for parents to introduce African American lullabies to their children. Joyce Carol Thomas has collected ten songs, most traditional, a few original and given insightful introductions. Thomas provides the lyrics and music for each lullaby. The songs are accompanied by lush illustrations by popular artist Brenda Joy Smith.
Ages: All Ages
Author: Graeme Base Illustrator: Graeme Base
Harry N. Abrams, Inc., $19.95 (Hard Cover)
Alien fantasies come and go, but this one has focus. Base has created a universe where music, or the lack thereof, separates the planets and gives them their distinct personalities. It's all about freedom of musical expression, as Sprocc, a young Splingtwanger-player enters the annual competition for Worst Band in the Universe, a true award of honor. Base's rhyming verse is delicious fun, and there is the added bonus of a CD of intergalactic songs, composed and performed by the author himself. This is a gift of cosmic proportions and hours of fun. Lullabies: An Illustrated Songbook
Ages: All Ages
Compiled By: Richard Kapp
Harcourt Trade Publishers/Gulliver, $25.00 (Hard Cover)
This is a superb collection of 37 lullabies accompanied by easy piano arrangements and glorious works of art. Rattlesnake Dance
Ages: 2 - 6 yrs.
Author: Jim Arnosky
Penguin Putnam/Putnam, $15.99 (Hard Cover)
With simple rhythmic words and bold, playful illustrations, the author gives us a peek into the undulating world of the rattlesnake. The snakes are an entrancing mix of Arnosky the naturalist and Arnosky the humorist. Even the youngest will happily sway and “rattle” along with the book. Not a story but a song (written music included) and a dance, these snakes are mesmerizing and movement will be irresistible. The Story of the Incredible Orchestra
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: Bruce Koscielniak
Houghton Mifflin Co., $15.00 (Hard Cover)
This labor of love by an artist/musician will tell interested children all about the development of musical instruments from 1600 to the present. The Music in Derrick's Heart
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: Gwendolyn Battle-Lavert Illustrator: Colin Bootman
Holiday House, Inc., $16.95 (Hard Cover)
This joyful tale of a budding musician includes details of the Deep South-- pecan trees, bare feet, and sweltering sunshine. Uncle Booker T. teaches Derrick how to play the harmonica, and Derrick takes his job of learning very seriously. He even sleeps with his instrument. The story conveys respect for elders, music, and hard work. The illustrations, which are done in oil pastel, capture shadow and motion masterfully. Bring on That Beat
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
By: Rachel Isadora
Penguin Putnam/G.P. Putnam's Sons, $14.99 (Hard Cover)
With dramatic oil paintings in black, white and grey, artist Rachel Isadora evokes Harlem during the 1930s when jazz was everywhere-- played in clubs, movie theaters and impromptu rooftop concerts. To give young listeners some sense of the music's rhythm and power, the artist injects splashes of brightly colored, computer-generated designs. Though we can't hear the music, we can almost see it. What Charlie Heard
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
By: Mordicai Gerstein
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $17.00 (Hard Cover)
Adults are not too old-- and four is not too young-- for author-illustrator Mordicai Gerstein's exuberant and profoundly moving picture book tribute to groundbreaking composer Charles Ives. Gerstein's illustrations are alive with words for the natural and human-made sounds that made up "Charlie's" aural tapestry from his babyhood in the late 19th century to his adulthood in the 20th, from drums, bells, birds and fire trucks to the quiet tick-tick of a clock and the purr of a cat. The Musicians of Bremen
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: Jane Yolen Illustrator: John Segal
Simon & Schuster/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers,
Though it has been endlessly done and redone, the is something new about this version of the Grimms' tale. Jabe Yolen's easy, brisk prose brings alive the story of the four unfortunate animals consigned to death by their masters: the music they make together is hideous, so awful it saves them. John Segal's spare, small watercolors strike amusingly discordant and hilarious notes. He leaves ample white borders around the pictures and open space within them to invite reader's imagination to play its own music with this tone-deaf band. M Is For Music
Ages: 5 - 8 yrs.
Author: Kathleen Krull Illustrator: Stacy Innerst
Harcourt Trade Publishers/Harcourt Children's Books, $16.00 (Hard Cover)
Music and the alphabet have always gone together. Don't kids learn their letters by singing the ABCs? But you've never seen--or heard--a musical alphabet like this one. Beloved tunes. Unusual instruments. Legendary virtuosos. From anthems to zydeco, the language of music and the music of language harmonize in one superb symphony. It's a funky fusion for songsters of all ages! Book Description
Two Scarlet Songbirds: A Story of Anton Dvorák
Ages: 5 - 9 yrs.
Author: Carole Lexa Schaefer Illustrator: Elizabeth Rosen
Random House Children's Books/Knopf, $16.95 (Hard Cover)
In the summer of 1893, Anton Dvorák, while on summer break from his directorship at the National Conservatory of Music in New York City, took a vacation to Spillville, Iowa, a farm community comprised largely of Czechoslovakian immigrants. In this slight story, based on this actual occurrence and the idea that the third movement of his String Quartet #12 in F major had its roots in the song of the Scarlet Tanager, Dvorák hears the bird's song and other sounds of the country and is inspired to compose. When he performs the new piece of music, the tanager quite likes hearing his song in the voice of another "scarlet songbird." The story won't interest every reader, but for music lovers and musicians-to-be, this gentle narrative will be a favorite.
Ages: 5 - 10 yrs.
Author: Anna Harwell Celenza Illustrator: JoAnn E. Kitchel
Charlesbridge, $19.95 (Hard Cover)
This appealing book tells the true story of Beethoven’s Heroic Symphony, a monumental work that the composer hoped would pay tribute to Napoleon Bonaparte, evoking the French war hero’s bravery and vision. Just as Beethoven completed his manuscript, he learned that his beloved war hero had crowned himself Emperor of France. Beethoven felt betrayed by this act from someone he had idealized as noble and egalitarian. The author, Anna Celenza, captivates with her engaging telling of this story, aided by the nicely imagined illustrations of JoAnn Kitchel. A bonus CD includes a performance of the Heroic Symphony by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. After reading this inspiring tale of hardship overcome through musical inspiration and courage, your young ones will want to hear the strains of this beloved work. When Marian Sang
Ages: 6 - 10 yrs.
Author: Brian Selznick
Scholastic Inc., $16.95 (Paperback)
This handsome oversize book tells admirably the life-story of the celebrated black singer Marian Anderson (1897-1993). Author Ryan manages to cover the highlights of Anderson's long career in a spare and sober text that never lapses into kiddy talk but treats the book's heroine and its audience - children - with the respect they deserve. Artist Brian Selznick's large, sepia-toned pictures project a near-photographic authenticity, giving the listener/viewer the sense of being right there with Marian. This is the most beautiful and worthwhile picture book to come down the pike in a long while. Don't miss it! Making Music
Ages: 7 - 12 yrs.
Author: John Langstaff Author: Ann Sayre Wiseman Illustrator: Ann Sayre Wiseman
Storey Publishing, $9.95 (Paperback)
Picking up where diminished school music programs are leaving off, Making Music encourages children to see the musical possibilities in everyday objects and shows how to make more than 70 basic rhythm, string, wind, and keyboard instruments. Noted musical educator John Langstaff also includes exciting ideas on how to compose and conduct pieces for homemade instruments including thimble fingers, a recorder, and a thumb piano. Book Description
Yang the Eldest and His Odd Jobs
Ages: 8 - 12 yrs.
Author: Lensey Namioka Illustrator: Kees de Kiefte
Little, Brown and Company/Megan Tingley Books, $15.95 (Hard Cover)
In the Asian-American Yang family, Eldest Brother, Yingwu, is the most gifted musician. When his violin develops a buzz, the family cannot afford a new one. Falling deeply in love with a wonderful instrument at the violin shop and hoping to buy it, Eldest Brother embarks on a series of jobs. He becomes quite successful at earning money - until the precious violin is sold to someone else. Jumbo Book of Music
Ages: 8 & Up
Kids Can Press, $14.95 (Paperback)
Beat out a trash-can rhythm, bang on a watercooler bass drum or blast a tune from a rubber-hose bugle! The Jumbo Book of Music has instructions on how to make and play instruments from all over the world. From creating a thumb piano to playing a didgeridoo, the activities in the book are fun and easy. Kids learn about different musical styles and make music on their own or together without needing technical musical knowledge. Book Description Toes
Ages: 8 & Up
Author: Tor Seidler
HarperCollins Children's Books / Laura Geringer, $15.99 (Hard Cover)
Owned by the McDonahue family, Toes is a black cat with seven digits on each paw whose siblings will have nothing to do with him. They ostracize him not for his extra toes, but for his extra smarts. Toes learns to understand some human words, cultivates an appreciation of the classical music and does “tricks” that amaze the children. One winter evening, Toes gets lost, stumbles into someone else’s basement and can’t get out. This house’s owner, Sebastian, a struggling musician with dreams of playing in the philharmonic, is astounded by Toes’ intelligence and apparent love of classical music. Through their years of friendship, it is Toes who helps Sebastian realize his fondest dream. Bud, Not Buddy
Ages: 10 & Up
Author: Christopher Paul Curtis
An orphaned runaway, Bud copes with the adult world with his numbered "Rules and Things." His few treasures from his former life with "Momma," are kept in a battered suitcase. One, a flyer advertising a musical group, leads him on a fantasy journey to an amazing reality. Harlem Stomp! A Cultural History of the Harlem Renaissance
Ages: 12 & Up
Author: Laban Carrick Hill
Little, Brown and Company Children's Publishing/Megan Tingley Books, $18.95 (Hard Cover)
The Harlem Renaissance continues to provide compelling material for authors. This volume offers seldom seen photographs and subject matter, such as “jive” terms popularized during the period. The era encompassed so much art, music and literature- the author touches upon it all. Packed with information accessible through a thorough index, this cultural history is equally a great browsing book, where readers discover something unique with each turn of the page.
You may not realize it, but your kitchen is an orchestra waiting to happen. Pots, pans, eggbeaters, graters, forks and mugs are just a few of the items bursting with symphonic potential.
Music Lessons: Body & Soul
If your child comes home from school wanting to learn to play an instrument, what do you say? Follow these suggestions for deciding the best way to encourage your child's musical interests.
Reprinted with the permission of the Parents' Choice Foundation. © Copyright 2012 Parents' Choice Foundation. All rights reserved.
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