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I would love it if you came to visit me at my workplace and asked me to recommend a book.
I work in a library and I really enjoy books, so as you can imagine, I enjoy my job immensely. One of my responsibilities is the children’s room.
Our library is small, but we have a wonderful collection of children’s books and a fabulous reading chair for parents. So come on in and let me introduce you to one of our favorites.
” Classical music is filled with unforgettable images, from tiptoeing sugarplum fairies to honking Parisian car horns”
This book helps to introduce children to some of those wonderful pieces of music through great works of Art. It is brilliantly done.
How it works
Thirteen pictures set the scene for each piece of music. You are asked to gaze at a wide variety of beautiful and interesting artwork, while playing the accompanying tracks on the enclosed CD. On each page are guided questions that help readers make connections between the sounds of the instruments and the mental images they can convey.
For Example Chrysanthemums a Japanese print of a bee hovering over some flowers (pictured above) is paired with Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Flight of the Bumblebee.
- “The violins and the flute play the bee at the start of the piece, using many short quick notes to convey the bee’s roundabout flying pattern.”
- “Can you hear the busy bumblebee flying from flower to flower?”
- “Can you also hear the bee hovering above a flower, played by the violins using lower notes?”
- “Can you also hear the bee flying as before, but this time heavy with nectar, played by the clarinets?”
Can You Hear It? opens with “An Introduction to Musical Instruments” section, which is informative and interesting, although you may want to skip it with younger children. At the back is a brief section with notes on the artists, composers, and the works.
This book is really popular at our library and doesn’t stay on the shelf for long. It is a feast for the senses and introduces children to wonderful pieces of art and music. It is simple enough to use that you do not need to know anything about music or art. In fact you may learn something yourself.
This is a book to savor
This is a book to savor and enjoy with your children. Older children might breeze through all thirteen pieces independently, but I think this is something for parents and children to share together.
It is not something to be rushed, take your time to enjoy the artwork and the music. Perhaps you might invite your children to join you and look at one or two masterpieces at a time.
Some interesting questions to ask
The only criticism I have is that all the questions require a yes or no answer and that can stifle conversation. I would suggest that when you first go to a page you ask some open-ended questions such as
- What do you see?
- What do you notice first?
- What words come to mind when you see this picture?
- What do you like about this picture?
- What would you like to ask the artist about this painting?
- If you could jump into this picture where would you go?
- What would you do?
When you play the music ask things like
- What do you hear?
- What pictures does the music paint in your head?
- How does this piece of music go with this painting?
Then read the information and ask the questions posed on the page. Afterward if you have time you might replay the track and invite children to move to the music or create their own artwork to go with it.
This is definitely one of the books I would recommend if you came into our library looking for something to read with your children. It’s not a traditional story, more of an I Spy Book with a twist. But it is a wonderful book to enjoy together.
Want to buy the book?
Now it’s your turn
I’m always on the look out for new children’s books. What are you reading with your kids?