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The Picture-Book Club > March 2011: Discuss Our Music Themed Club Reads HERE

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message 1: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (last edited Feb 14, 2011 11:00AM) (new)

Kathryn | 5577 comments Mod
Here are the books we will be discussing for our Music Theme beginning March 1st. As ever, I am looking forward to reading and sharing with all of you! :-)

The Little Piano Girl: The Story of Mary Lou Williams, Jazz Legend

The Philharmonic Gets Dressed

Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin

Ben's Trumpet

Gabriella's Song

Alternate/Sixth Title:
The Chinese Violin

I also want to remind you that some of these come with audio recordings as well as the picture book itself (my library has this for "Ben's Trumpet" and "Zin! Zin! Zin"). Not that it's mandatory to get the accompanying audio CD by any means, but since we are doing music and that is an auditory experience, I thought it might be fun to get the audio versions, if possible (I'm hoping there will be some good music or examples of the sounds of instruments on there).


message 2: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan (lisavegan) | 1077 comments Well, I've read the first two, and I have the next three on reserve (book only I think.) Unfortunately, there's no way I'm going to be able to get that 6th/alternate title, but I did add it to my to-read shelf for the future because it looks particularly enticing.


message 3: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (last edited Feb 14, 2011 01:01PM) (new)

Kathryn | 5577 comments Mod
Lisa wrote: "Unfortunately, there's no way I'm going to be able to get that 6th/alternate title, but I did add it to my to-read shelf for the future because it looks particularly enticing."

I can't get it either :-( but, as we had so many ties (after the first two clear winners), I decided to include it as the alternate since it's a Canadian publisher and I know we have several Canadian group members. Also, we haven't done many books featuring Chinese culture and I thought it would good to do so. I hope most people will be able to get it--or at least most of our Canadian members...


message 4: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan (lisavegan) | 1077 comments Kathryn, I think it's an excellent choice. It looks like a great book and I hope choosing it means more members will be able to get more of the books for this month.


message 5: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (new)

Kathryn | 5577 comments Mod
I hope so! I wavered in choosing it since I thought it might not be available in the US as easily but I wanted to give our Canadian members a chance at something from their country, too ;-)


message 6: by Manybooks (last edited Feb 14, 2011 04:00PM) (new)

Manybooks | 6881 comments Mod
I can get four of the books at my local library, including The Chinese Violin, which sounds lovely, but which I did not vote for because I was not sure how available it would be south of the border. I am going to try to order The Philharmonic Gets Dressed and Ben's Trumpet through ILL. Looking forward to the discussion.


message 7: by Leslie (new)

Leslie (onthemove) I can't get it in my ILL either. But I think I might go to a book store and read it with my son.

All of the others I was able to get.

Thanks

Can't wait to read them and discuss them.


message 8: by Gaynor (new)

Gaynor (seasian) | 52 comments I am checking out the last 3 from the library tomorrow. I know they are there because I am responsible for purchasing - lucky me.
I have read "The Philharmonic gets Dressed" some time ago, but can't remember it well enough to comment. Looking forward to seeing what others say about "The little piano girl.." because I might purchase that one also. Seriously doubt that I can get "The Chinese violin", but it was a good choice for the reasons you mentioned Kathryn.


message 9: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 6881 comments Mod
Gaynor wrote: "I am checking out the last 3 from the library tomorrow. I know they are there because I am responsible for purchasing - lucky me.
I have read "The Philharmonic gets Dressed" some time ago, but can'..."


I totally loved The Little Piano Girl: The Story of Mary Lou Williams, Jazz Legend, I think you cannot go wrong purchasing it for your library. It's a wonderful story and can be used both for a music theme and for African-American history (oh, and a great story about one of the greatest ladies of jazz, so it would also work for women's history).


message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm gonna have to check my library website, see if I can get some of these books...and/or buy one or two.


message 11: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (last edited Feb 23, 2011 07:55AM) (new)

Kathryn | 5577 comments Mod
I am major-bummed because I picked up my copy of Ben's Trumpet from the library yesterday and I thought it was a book AND audio recording, as with all of the picture books I've got that have a CD/cassette but it's just the audio! I think that is so weird, especially with a picture book (um, hello, we need the pictures!!!) so I am going to have to see if they have another book copy somewhere or maybe see about ordering it if the group members rave about it. Otherwise, I'll just try to listen to the audio and use my imagination for the pictures!


message 12: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 6881 comments Mod
Kathryn wrote: "I am major-bummed because I picked up my copy of Ben's Trumpet from the library yesterday and I thought it was a book AND audio recording, as with all of the picture books I've got t..."

That is so annoying. My library does not have a copy of Ben's Trumpet, but you would think that a library would have both an audiobook and a hard copy of any book, but especially a picture book.

I have picked up those books that were available at the library and I'm looking forward to discussing them come March.


message 13: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan (lisavegan) | 1077 comments Kathryn, One reason I don't like audiobooks is you don't see the pictures. Many picture books come audio only and you do have to get both editions.

I've read the first five books on the list and am waiting a week to discuss them. Someday, I hope to read that sixth book. I read the book only versions, no audio. Audio would be interesting.

The best thing about Ben's Trumpet was the illustrations, although I was pathetically slow to catch on to something about them. Something most readers of any age would get immediately.


message 14: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (last edited Feb 23, 2011 09:05AM) (new)

Kathryn | 5577 comments Mod
Lisa wrote: "Kathryn, One reason I don't like audiobooks is you don't see the pictures. Many picture books come audio only and you do have to get both editions.
...
The best thing about Ben's Trumpet was the illustrations, although I was pathetically slow to catch on to something about them. Something most readers of any age would get immediately."


Really!? I had no idea some picture books in audio come audio-only with no accompanying book; that is so odd, I think, given the format. Of course, I could see where it would have its uses but I do wish they had both.

I'm glad the pictures were good; I usually really like Rachel Isadora. Unfortunately, it appears that my library has only the cassette version :-( Well, I will listen to that and then see about getting the picture book used somewhere if I really like the story.


message 15: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan (lisavegan) | 1077 comments Kathryn, It is too bad. Make sure you at least take a good look at the cover illustration.


message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

The illustrations in Ben's Trumpet are really great! I'm sorry that you can't see them, Kathryn. I liked the style of the illustrations (perhaps pen and ink drawing...or some sort of black and white printing?) more than Rachel Isadora's watercolors. I'm very curious what you were slow to catch onto with the illustrations, Lisa.

I've checked out The Philharmonic Gets Dressed, but sadly three others on the list are not available at my library. I was especially excited about reading The Little Piano Girl. I look forward to reading what you have to say about them.


message 17: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 6881 comments Mod
Amy wrote: "The illustrations in Ben's Trumpet are really great! I'm sorry that you can't see them, Kathryn. I liked the style of the illustrations (perhaps pen and ink drawing...or some sort of black and whit..."

Amy, maybe you can (if it's a service available at your library and free of charge) get The Little Piano Girl through ILL (Interlibrary Loan). It's a really wonderful book, I really loved both the story and the illustrations.


message 18: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan (lisavegan) | 1077 comments Amy wrote: "I'm very curious what you were slow to catch onto with the illustrations, Lisa."

I think I'll wait for the spoiler thread to go up because while it won't be for 99% of readers for me to say would have been a spoiler for me. Pathetic unobservant reader that I am. ;-)


message 19: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (new)

Kathryn | 5577 comments Mod
Amy wrote: "The illustrations in Ben's Trumpet are really great! I'm sorry that you can't see them, Kathryn. I liked the style of the illustrations (perhaps pen and ink drawing...or some sort of black and whit..."

Okay, you guys have convinced me! I have to get a copy of this book! I found an inexpensive used copy and have it on order ;-) I usually like Rachel Isadora's work, anyway, so I feel confident I am not taking a risk in adding this one to my permanent collection.


message 20: by Manybooks (last edited Feb 25, 2011 10:08AM) (new)

Manybooks | 6881 comments Mod
Kathryn wrote: "Amy wrote: "The illustrations in Ben's Trumpet are really great! I'm sorry that you can't see them, Kathryn. I liked the style of the illustrations (perhaps pen and ink drawing...or some sort of bl..."

I really don't understand why publishers would create an audiobook of a picture book without at least having the picture book with it, for picture books, illustrations are often as important as the text itself. I requested "Ben's Trumpet" through ILL, but I have not heard back from the library wether it is available, but I think I can get most of the other books from the library this month.


message 21: by Leslie (new)

Leslie (onthemove) I wanted to let everyone know when i tried to get the Chinese Violin at my I'LL, the title Wheels on the bus listed. So I called and talked to the Staff and they said that it is a story inside the DVD. So there are a number of stories and one of them is The Chinese Violin. So at least we will be able to watch it. We would have liked to read it but, I am excited to watch it.

So you guys can look for the DVD. Hope you guys can find it


message 22: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (last edited Feb 25, 2011 10:38AM) (new)

Kathryn | 5577 comments Mod
Leslie wrote: "I wanted to let everyone know when i tried to get the Chinese Violin at my I'LL, the title Wheels on the bus listed. So I called and talked to the Staff and they said that it is a story inside the..."

Cool! Thanks for sharing!

Who produced the DVD? Is it this one:
http://www.amazon.com/Wheels-Sing-Alo...

I hope you enjoy it. It costs money to rent DVDs from my library so I will hold off getting this unless you think it's really good.


message 23: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan (lisavegan) | 1077 comments Kathryn, I think you'll enjoy it.

Leslie, Thank you. I saw The Wheels on the Bus too. Maybe I will reserve it. I'd really have preferred to read the book though. But, it's the only book I can't get.


message 24: by Leslie (new)

Leslie (onthemove) Yes, that is the video!

I have reserved it so I am excited to see the DVD.

Thanks for posting the link so everyone can see it.


message 25: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (new)

Kathryn | 5577 comments Mod
Leslie wrote: "Yes, that is the video!

I have reserved it so I am excited to see the DVD.

Thanks for posting the link so everyone can see it."


I'm glad you brought it to our attention and will look forward to hearing what you think of it!


message 26: by Kelli (new)

Kelli Barrett I read Gabriella's Song to my 6 year old daughter last night and for some reason she hated it! I really liked it. I thought it was sweet and really got the point across that music means different things to different people. I'm guessing my daughter didn't like it because of the noises you read aloud because while I was making one of them she said "Can you please not read those parts?" Ha, ha, ha...


message 27: by Manybooks (last edited Feb 28, 2011 06:24PM) (new)

Manybooks | 6881 comments Mod
Kelli wrote: "I read Gabriella's Song to my 6 year old daughter last night and for some reason she hated it! I really liked it. I thought it was sweet and really got the point across that music me..."

I remember that I was not too keen on reading and/or hearing about noises when I was small, as I had quite a vivid imagination and would often tend to dream about what I read (or rather, what my parents were reading to me).


message 28: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan (lisavegan) | 1077 comments Kelli, Well, hooray for kids with strong opinions. I never worry if someone doesn't like a particular book, as long as they can enjoy many books. I enjoyed this book too, but I"m an adult, and the target audience of it is children, so I'm particularly interested in their opinions.


message 29: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (last edited Mar 01, 2011 01:07PM) (new)

Kathryn | 5577 comments Mod
Kelli wrote: "I read Gabriella's Song to my 6 year old daughter last night and for some reason she hated it! I really liked it. I thought it was sweet and really got the point across that music me..."

That is so interesting, Kelli! Thanks for sharing; I really enjoy hearing the children's perspectives on these books since I don't have any young ones of my own. I think sometimes kids appreciate things that we adults miss and that other times adults appreciate books that might not resonate with kids so much.

Anyway, I read Gabriella's Song last night and I really enjoyed it! I am not sure the illustrations were exactly my cup of tea, but I thought the story was interesting and sweet and beautifully told. I loved the idea of the song taking on a different meaning for each listener and that the little girl was the one with the inspiration and gift in this tale. I think it's so important for children to see the ways that they can "do something" make a positive contribution to the lives of grown-ups. And that music is for anyone, at any age.

I was also charmed that the setting is Venice. I have a dear friend who is from Venice, a professional cellist. I know he would be very happy to see his city represented so "musically" ;-)


message 30: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (last edited Mar 01, 2011 01:35PM) (new)

Kathryn | 5577 comments Mod
I also read The Philharmonic Gets Dressed which I remember really liking as a kid (it probably helped that it was featured on my beloved "Reading Rainbow") I still think it's utterly charming and fascinating. It like how it builds the mystery of who these men and women are and what they are going to do. I love the details, how each gets ready in his/her own unique way (and the illustrations are just a hoot--I know I was so intrigued by the ones of the people taking baths and showers, haha! and the kitty sitting on the toilet seat watching the one musician take a bath, oh, that one is great!) Even though the story isn't so much about the actual performance, I think the story is a good one to include in a discussion of music and performance. When I went to a performance of a Gilbert and Sullivan opera in which my friend was playing cello, it was so much fun to hang out with him before hand. We went to a grocery store and he kept pointing out members of the cast and orchestra who were just going about their little daily routines, buying milk or whatever! Now, this was just a few years ago, but I still thought it was "neat" to see them in their everyday life and better know more what went on in their transformation to the stage ;-) And, as a kid, I loved all the preparation the orchestra does in this book. I have done a lot of dance and theater in my day and I know that it's these little details of preparation that go into a good performance, not just that you know your lines, your dance steps, or your music. Nice to see a book share that, with such humor and charm.


message 31: by Wilhelmina (new)

Wilhelmina Jenkins | 229 comments I am so annoyed! I usually have no problems with Amazon, and I saw a used copy of The Chinese Violin for a good price. I decided to order it, especially since my grandson attends an international school focusing on Chinese. When I opened my package, they had sent me - The Adventures of Mary-Kate and Ashley! How disappointing! Of course they gave me a refund, but they didn't have a copy of the book. Rats! I'll just have to keep looking.


message 32: by Leslie (new)

Leslie (onthemove) Well we started out reading zin, zin and my son knew all the names of the instruments and has held and had the experience of playing it a little bit. So this was not that exciting of a book.

With The Philharmonic Gets Dressed, he was very excited to find out who was all dressing, but I felt like the book was more focused on getting dressed than playing. Yes, he liked seeing the people in the shower and loved the cat. But as far as this book being about music and playing together, not so much.

Ben's trumpet, we loved this book! This is the one that we kept and will read again. I will sash more about it when I read it again. But I loved that it was black and white (I cant remember now, no color).

I am still waiting for the rest of the books to come, including the DVD.


message 33: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan (lisavegan) | 1077 comments Wilhelmina wrote: "When I opened my package, they had sent me - The Adventures of Mary-Kate and Ashley! How disappointing!"

Disappointing but hilarious!


message 34: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (new)

Kathryn | 5577 comments Mod
Wilhelmina wrote: "I am so annoyed! I usually have no problems with Amazon, and I saw a used copy of The Chinese Violin for a good price. I decided to order it, especially since my grandson attends an ..."

Whaaah! How frustrating and disappointing. And to get *that* book instead, not even something remotely similar or useful for your grandson. Oh well, I do hope you can find a copy of the right book soon.


message 35: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (new)

Kathryn | 5577 comments Mod
Abigail wrote: "ETA: for anyone looking for a fabulous recording of this type of music, I highly recommend Yu Hong-Mei's String Glamour"

Thanks, Abigail!


message 36: by Manybooks (last edited Mar 02, 2011 08:15AM) (new)

Manybooks | 6881 comments Mod
I have read The Chinese Violin, and I loved the story, although it is more about immigration than music. The Chinese Violin is a musical instrument that the family takes with them from China to Canada (from the looks of the illustrations, Vancouver) and it helps the little girl fight her homesickness. I have to reread the book, there is a lot more to discuss. I thought that the story was wonderful and evocative (it also made me remember how taking certain treasured items with you when moving helps ease homesickness when moving/immigrating, it was so sad when the violin got broken, and broken because some thugs beat up Lin Lin's father to get the money he received for playing the violin as a street musician, they do get a new one in the end). I wish though that the book had come with a sample CD as I don't really know what a Chinese violin sounds like and that would have been a wonderful additional touch in my opinion. Also, I have to admit that the illustrations are not my cup of tea, they work well enough, but I find them rather cartoon-like and the facial expressions, especially for close-ups, a bit creepy (however, that is just my personal opinion, others might really enjoy the illustrations).


message 37: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 6881 comments Mod
Kathryn wrote: "Wilhelmina wrote: "I am so annoyed! I usually have no problems with Amazon, and I saw a used copy of The Chinese Violin for a good price. I decided to order it, especially since my g..."

You really wonder what Amazon was thinking. I once got an "erotic" calendar from them, instead of the children's book I had ordered. Now, imagine if a child had opened up that package ...


message 38: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 6881 comments Mod
Kelli wrote: "I once got an "erotic" calendar from them, instead of the children's book I had ordered. Now, imagine if a child had opened up that package ...

LOL!!!"


It was funny in retrospect. But, if I had sent that particular book as a gift to a friend with children, it could have led to quite the misunderstanding.


message 39: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (last edited Mar 02, 2011 09:36AM) (new)

Kathryn | 5577 comments Mod
Gundula wrote: "You really wonder what Amazon was thinking. I once got an "erotic" calendar from them, instead of the children's book I had ordered. Now, imagine if a child had opened up that package ... "

OMG!!!!! :-O


message 40: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (last edited Mar 02, 2011 09:39AM) (new)

Kathryn | 5577 comments Mod
Gundula wrote: "I have read The Chinese Violin, and I loved the story, although it is more about immigration than music. The Chinese Violin is a musical instrument that the family takes with them f..."

Thank you so much for your detailed review of "The Chinese Violin" especially since I doubt many of us will be able to read it, after all (*sigh*). It sounds like a very good story. Was there mention of why the violin itself was so treasured; such as the family played music back home and the sound of the violin transported them to those memories even in a new, strange land? I'm curious why they violin was chosen as the treasured object to feature (among so many choices) since it's more a story about immigration than music? Thanks for the insights! :-) I am eager to see if Leslie enjoyed the video version of the story and if there is music (I hope so!) such that we could hear the Chinese violin being played.


message 41: by Cheryl, Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl (cherylllr) | 6162 comments Mod
OT - are these mishaps with Amazon proper, or with the used bookstores that list on Amazon? If the latter, I'd suggest using half.com instead. Shipping is cheaper, and the sellers there have almost never disappointed me.


message 42: by Cheryl, Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl (cherylllr) | 6162 comments Mod
I borrowed the book and the Playaway (tm) of Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin and In the Small, Small Pond and Other Stories That Rhyme: In the Small, Small Pond/ Stars! Stars! Stars!/ Wild About Books/ Come On, Rain!/ Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin!. I'm kinda wishing I'd just gotten the playaway, as I wasn't overly fond of the illustrations and would rather just have immersed myself in the sounds.


message 43: by Cheryl, Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl (cherylllr) | 6162 comments Mod
I first read Ben's Trumpet almost 20 years ago and loved it both then and now. The illustrations do bring the feel of jazz alive - but it'd be helpful to listen to some Charlie Parker et al the week that you have it checked out from the library. Imo.


message 44: by Cheryl, Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl (cherylllr) | 6162 comments Mod
I have very mixed feelings about Gabriella's Song. I do not understand, appreciate, or like that illustrative style. I see no grace or vibrancy in the art.

I liked the concept of the story, and I *think* I liked the style in which it was written - but I think I'd have to wait a week and have someone read it aloud to me so I can't see the pictures, to be sure.


message 45: by Manybooks (last edited Mar 03, 2011 11:40AM) (new)

Manybooks | 6881 comments Mod
Kathryn wrote: "Gundula wrote: "I have read The Chinese Violin, and I loved the story, although it is more about immigration than music. The Chinese Violin is a musical instrument that the family t..."

I think it was so treasured mostly because it was something that the family brought over with them from China to Canada, it was a link for Lin Lin to the past, to her village in China. I'm going to quote from the beginning of the book.

"On Sunday afternoons, people came from far and wide with their violins and flutes and mandolins. Lin Lin and her father would sit among the butterflies and birds and flowers and listen to the music. Lin Lin loved her small village. Sometimes, Lin Lin and her father floated the day away on the river. He would play the violin, and Lin Lin would try to play it too."

Beautiful description, isn't it, and it really shows that for Lin Lin, her father's Chinese violin meant home, and later, in Canada, thoughts of home, and a way to combat her homesickness. That is why she was so sad, when the violin was broken by the thugs who robbed her father, the violin was home to her, and now that was gone. It affected her concentration, and for a while, even at her new Canadian school, all she could think about was her village in China, and the fact that her father's violin had been destroyed.

All the more powerful and beautiful, that her father worked washing dishes at a busy Vancouver restaurant, not only to make enough money to pay the rent etc., but also, to buy a new violin for both himself and his daughter. And this time, it is Lin Lin who plays the violin, who ends up performing on her Chinese violin for an audience and receiving tumultuous applause.

A truly wonderful story, and if the illustrations had been more to my liking I would likely have rated it five stars (I am going to rate it four stars, and I'm still hoping to be able to actually hear what a Chinese violin sounds like sooner than later).


message 46: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan (lisavegan) | 1077 comments Oh why, oh why, can't everybody have access to every book no matter what country they're in?! I'll have to read The Chinese Violin eventually; I'm not that interested in the DVD.


message 47: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan (lisavegan) | 1077 comments So, I really want to participate this month but don't have time to write everything new, so some of this I previously wrote in my reviews/comments:


The Little Piano Girl: The Story of Mary Lou Williams, Jazz Legend:

I read this at the end of January, thanks to Gundula, and maybe its mention in this group as a possible book choice.

I thought it was a lovely picture book biography about the jazz musician Mary Lou Williams. If I had not know that before I started reading, I’d have learned it when I read the afterword. The story itself is told in a way that it could be either true or fictional. I knew nothing about Williams’ life before reading this book, and very little about her as a musician. The afterword makes clear how much she contributed to the field of music.

This account is adept at showing the transformative power of music, at least for the musically gifted. It does also show how art (in this case music, for me when young, books) can ease one’s suffering. Mary had a rough childhood. She temporarily lost an instrument on which to play, didn’t have enough money for her own shoes, and for a time didn’t have friends and wasn’t welcomed in her new town. Her musical genius was a true gift, for her and for others too, those who heard her music.

I liked that the language used to tell the story will appeal to kids; there are phrases kids will intimately know first hand. That’s good because there are a lot of musical genre terms that might not be so familiar to some readers.

The illustrations are marvelous. It took me a bit of time to get used to the way the people were painted, but from the beginning I loved the colors, various settings and objects, etc.

This biography (historical fiction account?) covers the period from when Mary was three until she was an older adult; it definitely concentrates on her childhood, which should appeal to child listeners/readers.

This book would be ideal for reading aloud one to one or for groups and also for independent readers.

The Philharmonic Gets Dressed:

I read this nearly 3 years ago and I’m not sure why this wasn’t my cup of tea. If I had time, I’d reread it because it’s a book I think I should like.

I love the symphony and I love books, but I thought that this book was dull. The illustrations are wonderful though! For me, the text was plodding. It’s a very straightforward, detailed account of orchestra members getting dressed, leaving their homes, and going to work to make music together, and it ends before any music starts. It would have been a more interesting book with the illustrations and no words at all. Maybe it was my mood, but I thought that this was a boring, ineffective way to try to excite children about the symphony and symphonic music.

Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin:

I read this a couple weeks ago so I’d have it read to discuss here.

While the text poems weren’t stellar I really liked this book and I particularly got a great deal of pleasure from the inclusion of the cats in a book about music.

Ten instruments are introduced, as they and their players end up forming a chamber group of ten. This works as a counting book because as each instrument is introduced they are part of a count: one/solo, two/duo (why not duet, I wonder?), three/trio, up to eight/octet, nine/nonet (a word I just learned when reading this book) and ten. The text even gives some tidbits of information about what will happen at a classical music chamber group concert and how to behave at one.

Oh, and I did love the illustrations. I think they do deserve the Caldecott Honor they received.

Ben's Trumpet:

I read this one a couple weeks ago for this book club.

I wasn’t sure about this one at first. It’s basically a historical fiction very short picture book story. A lot of 20s slang and mood is at the forefront, which I enjoyed, but as I read I wasn’t sure young children would.

The illustrations are terrific. I love when the illustrations bleed out of their area.

However, and I’m embarrassed to admit this, I didn’t read the cues about what was going on re Ben’s trumpet. I wasn’t sufficiently observant about what the pictures were telling me. The cover and other illustrations tell the reader that Ben’s trumpet is a figment of his imagination. But, because I didn’t get that, as this story evolves, I found it even more emotionally rich when I finally did understand. What a lovely story! Much is told in relatively few words.

Gabriella's Song:

I like that the informative author’s note started off the book vs. it being at the end, as is more typical.

The illustrations are truly lovely. I want to go to Venice! It’s wonderfully depicted! I also like how some of the hanging laundry on the inside covers are cloths with music scores on them. And how some of the illustrations are whimsical. And, just everything about them, even people’s faces though they took me a very little bit of time to appreciate them.

I think the story is sweet; I love how the tune starts, travels, and evolves. I love the acknowledgement given at the end. Most importantly, it shows how the same music can evoke different feelings in different people depending on the person and their mood.

I also appreciated the smattering of Italian words and the “sound effect” words, and the latter contribute to making this book fun to read aloud. (although not for some children as has been noted above!)


The Chinese Violin:

This is the one I couldn’t get and I hope to someday read it. It looks great, but for some reason I’m not interested in the DVD.

For all the books I got the text book only, with no accompanying music recordings. But I know music well enough and have a good imagination so I could “hear” the music at times when I was reading these books.


message 48: by Gaynor (new)

Gaynor (seasian) | 52 comments Well after all the interest in The Chinese Violin and because I can't immediately get my hands on it, I decided to look it up and watch You Tube. The instrument itself reminds me a lot of a "rebab" which is from Indonesia and is often played as part of the gamelan orchestra. We have a gamelan at my school and there is nothing nicer than the sound of the music drifting upstairs in the afternoon as the children attend their "traditional music" lessons. There is no rebab though because it is difficult for children to play.
Thank you Abigail for posting the You Tube sites. I have always enjoyed Indonesian music more than Chinese, but have an open mind.I am going to search for the book, mainly because of the theme - the importance of family heirlooms and memories.


message 49: by Crystal (new)

Crystal Marcos (crystalmarcos) | 477 comments I am hoping to pick up my books tomorrow from the library and get started this weekend joining in the discussions. I will be getting all but the alternative book. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on The Chinese Violin.


message 50: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (new)

Kathryn | 5577 comments Mod
Gundula wrote: "Beautiful description, isn't it, and it really shows that for Lin Lin, her father's Chinese violin meant home, and later, in Canada, thoughts of home, and a way to combat her homesickness."

Absolutely beautiful! Thank you for sharing that and your further thoughts about the book and the significance of the violin. I really appreciate it!


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