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If music be the food of love, play on. It has been proven that making music central to children's learning ensures they reap the benefits the artform can bring to personal growth. Here is a selection of fiction and non-fiction books focusing on music.
February 2021 Debut of the Month | The lives of the inhabitants of a small town are transformed by music in this elegant picture book. The music pours out of a small window high up in the eaves of a house – readers can see it, a stream of flowers, blossom and delicate leaves. The melody banishes a young boy’s loneliness, makes an old lady feel lively and full of joy, gives everyone the thing they are missing and prompts kindness and generosity. When the music suddenly stops, the townspeople work together to help the musician, whose identity will surprise everyone. This gentle story celebrates the power of music in all our lives, as well as the importance of community and love. The illustrations come as close as you can get to a visual representation of music and are full of warmth and fellowship.
Press the note to hear Saint-Saens' music | Discover the magical world of Carnival of the Animals in this musical reimagining of this celebrated suite for children - push the button in each breathtaking scene to hear the vivid sound of an orchestra playing from Camille Saint-Saens' score. You can find more wintry & festive stories in our Best Books for Kids this Christmas collection!
With all the sparkle of her jewel-encrusted costumes, this terrific book is an access all areas biography of one of the most high-profile, high-achieving women in the world today, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter. It begins at her first public performance, age 7, at a school talent contest. Despite her nerves, Beyoncé stole the show and won the competition – the first of many awards she would receive (23 Grammys at the last count). But as the book explains, Beyoncé’s was anything but overnight success – wow, has she worked hard, pouring everything into her career. It’s a fascinating and inspiring story and told so that readers will feel they are there with her, experiencing the stage-fright, the disappointment of losing her first record deal and her determination to make her way on her own terms.It’s super-readable, helped by black and white illustrations on every page, including lots of Beyoncé, in which she addresses us direct. With real insight as well as all the facts, this is a great series and Ms Knowles-Carter’s story a terrific addition to it.
There are lots of reasons for getting yourself a copy of this lively, charming picture book! Not only is it a bright, fun way to tell children about different animals, it’s also a bright, fun way to get children moving, stretching and enjoying themselves. Pages of information about animals, from flamingos to chimpanzees, are matched by illustrated encouragements to copy their movements – stretch out your wings like a flamingo, scuttle sideways like a crab, wiggle your bottom like a bee! The text is great for reading aloud with a bouncy rhythm and the pictures are just as full of life. This is guaranteed to get everyone jumping up and joining in!
There are adventures galore in the second episode of this new series starring little mermaid Marnie and her friends and family. This time the action is all to do with the annual entertainment extravaganza that is the Clamshell Show. Marnie really wants the part of Queen Maretta, but so does her friend Orla, and nasty new mergirl, show-off Gilly Seaflower too. When the curtain finally goes up, there’s as much drama behind the scenes as on stage, and the sudden surprise appearance of a human! Marnie and her friends are very appealing characters – naughty aunt Christabel is a hoot – and their underwater world very tempting. Pretty illustrations by Sheena Dempsey add to the all-round charm. Young readers should dive in straightaway. Fans of The Worst Witch will enjoy the lively stories in Mermaid School, and readers who like Marnie should get to know Lyla, star of Rebecca Patterson’s new Moon Girl series too.
Just like the award short-listed title Once Upon a Raindrop, this is a wonderful topic introduction, but this time revealing the origins and essentials of music in all its forms. A colourful visual treat from the notation themed endpapers to the irresistible, exuberant and inclusive depictions of the drumming, dance and song that have been a vital part of human life since ancient times. We journey through songs originating around the campfire and passed down through the generations, the development of instruments and musical notation right up to the genres which we enjoy today. Engaging and informative and ending with an acrostic poem, based upon the word Rhythm, of useful information about musical history, this book begs to be read aloud. The page design using bold text and red for emphasis ensures that nobody could fail to catch the beat. It is a real celebration of rhythm designed to inspire young musicians everywhere to get involved. Music has always been a part of James Carter’s school performances so he is absolutely the perfect match for this topic and this poem would be great piece to use for choral speaking performances in assemblies and the like.
The history of rock is chronicled through forty world-famous artists and groups in this stylishly designed and illustrated book. It begins with Elvis Presley, whirls through the psychedelic 60s and the protest songs of the 70s, then via glam rock and reggae takes us into the punk era, new wave and hip hop, leaving us with Beyoncé and Arcade Fire. It’s clearly a personal choice (Blur but not Oasis? And where are the queens of soul and disco?) but covers a huge range of styles and movements, and gives a real sense of the evolution of popular music. Each artist has a double page and they are represented via stylish, graphic illustrations accompanied by useful captions – dotted lines lead from Bob Dylan’s head to the words ‘Politically engaged’, while Elvis’s hips are labelled ‘provocative’. Fun, stylish and informative.
Meet Ella Fitzgerald, one of the most influential jazz singers of all time! With stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, this empowering series celebrates the important life stories of wonderful people of the world. From designers and artists to scientists, all of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream. These books make the lives of these role models accessible for children, providing a powerful message to inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world! Little People, Big Dreams series include: Ada Lovelace Agatha Christie Amelia Earhart Anne Frank Audrey Hepburn Coco Chanel Ella Fitzgerald Emmeline Pankhurst Frida Kahlo Georgia O’Keeffe Harriet Tubman Jane Austen Jane Goodall Josephine Baker Lucy Maud Montgomery Maria Montesorri Marie Curie Maya Angelou Mother Teresa Muhammed Ali Rosa Parks Simone de Beauvoir Stephen Hawking Vivienne Westwood We have a special category for the Little People, Big Dreams series. Click here to view them all.
Lovely to look at and delightful to read, this is a lively, exceptionally engaging way to introduce children to one of the best loved ballets: each page features a button that when pressed plays an excerpt of Tchaikovsky’s music. The story is told over busy double page illustrations, the scenes varied and each full of detail and atmosphere. A glossary at the back explains dance and musical terms and there are short biographical notes on Tchaikovsky as well as notes on the different pieces of music the children have heard, for example, how the celesta used in the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy makes the piece sound so sparkly and magical. A real Christmas treat.
This ingenious book is a clever way to introduce children to the many different types of instrument there are in the world. Colour cards with bright, friendly illustrations feature nine different instruments on each side, grouped by type e.g. string instruments, instruments you blow into to make a sound. Slot the cards into the special holder, turn the switch on the back cover to on, and pressing the illustrations of the instruments produces a couple of notes or a short musical phrase. Children can compare the sound of a trombone with a didgeridoo, or a double bass with a viola or sarangi. It’s a marvel that this one small-ish book can demonstrate so many musical instruments and it’s certain to catch children’s imaginations. ~ Andrea Reece
Julia Donaldson was writing lively, irresistible songs for children even before she was writing her much-loved books, and 23 of those songs are collected in this lovely book. Lots of the subjects will be familiar to children – there’s a song based on The Hare and the Tortoise for example, and a number that accompany some of her best-loved books including The Gruffalo, Room on the Broom and The Snail and the Whale. Illustrations throughout are by her long-time collaborator Axel Scheffler, making this wonderful to look at too. And there’s a CD of Julia performing the songs so that we can all join in. A treasury indeed that will provide hours of happy reading, listening and singing! ~ Andrea Reece
Stylishly illustrated this is a piece of non-fiction, the inspiring story of a special friendship, and a bit of a mystery story too. It introduces young readers to Ella Fitzgerald and describes the beginning of her career when she and her band were not allowed to perform in some clubs because of the colour of their skin. But Ella had one big fan determined to do something about that – who was it? The story reveals it was Marilyn Monroe, and describes the close friendship between the two women and how Marilyn helped Ella get the attention her music deserved. It’s a great story perfectly told through Helen Hancocks’s bold, vibrant illustrations and in clear engaging text and it brings a particular piece of history vividly to life. ~ Andrea Reece
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