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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.
Forever Young Forever Young
Ages: All Ages
Author: Bob Dylan   Illustrator: Paul Rogers  
Simon & Schuster, $17.99 (Hard Cover)   

This new picture book version of a 1974 song introduces a new generation to Dylan's messages of peace, freedom and social consciousness. The lyrics are simple enough for children yet poetic and profound in their wishes. Paul Rogers evokes a cheery 70s aesthetic in his vivid retro illustrations, rendered in ink and acrylic. Rogers plants Dylan-related allusions on each page as well, making the book great fun for adult Dylan fans. This is a must-have for parents and grandparents from the Dylan era, and perfect for sharing with the little ones in their lives.

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.

Piano Starts Here: The Young Art Tatum
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: Robert Andrew Parker   Illustrator: Robert Andrew Parker  
Random House Children's Books / Schwartz and Wade Books, $16.99 (Hard Cover)   

It's the story of Art Tatum, a musician who, despite being nearly blind since birth, became one of the greatest jazz pianists in history. During the 1930s, Tatum was a regular on the jazz circuit, playing in clubs frequented by Fats Waller and other greats of the era. Parker's book focuses on Tatum's early years- performing in church at age ten, gradually playing in public after school, and eventually touring with bandleaders across the country. Even without including the darker details of Tatum's life (and early death), this is an interesting look at the man and his era in music history.

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.

The Story of the Incredible Orchestra 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.

What Charlie Heard 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.

M Is For Music 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

The Heroic Symphony The Heroic Symphony
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!

Odetta: The Queen Of Folk Odetta: The Queen Of Folk
Ages: 7 - 10 yrs.
Author: Stephen Alcorn  
Scholastic Inc./ Hardcovers 1, $17.99 (Hard Cover)   

Odetta: Queen of Folk is a real-life story that pays tribute to folk singer and Civil Rights activist Odetta Holmes. Odetta's tale unfolds through Stephen Alcorn's reverent poetry. She goes from being "a baby with a birdcage / in her throat" to someone who could do more than just sing- she could "sang". As Alcorn writes, "To sang is to sing / like you need the music / as much / as birds / need sky." The combination of poetry and stunning expressive paintings bring Odetta's struggles and successes to life. An afterword provides further details about Odetta's 54-year musical career, her artistic influences, and the historical context of Birmingham in the 1950s and 60s. This is a recommended book for those interested in music, Civil Rights, or African-American history.

Making Music Making Music
Ages: 7 - 12 yrs.
Author: Ann Sayre Wiseman   Author: John Langstaff   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

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

Bud, Not Buddy
Ages: 10 & Up
Author: Christopher Paul Curtis  
Delacorte Press,

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 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.

Don't Miss
Kitchen Concerto
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.

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