Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Picture Books
Carnival of the Animals

Carnival of the Animals

Fall 2004 Picture Books
Ages: 5 - 10 yrs.
Author: John Lithgow
Illustrator: Boris Kulikov
ISBN: 0689867212
Hardcover Price: $17.95
It's become almost a given these days that a celebrity will at some point decide to write a children's book. But John Lithgow was writing his wacky kid-friendly stories and songs long before there was a bandwagon to jump on. His latest is a wildly entertaining treatment of Camille Saint-Saens's 1886 suite Carnival of the Animals, and is the book form of text Lithgow created for a New York City ballet production of the musical piece. Here, a young boy falls asleep after sneaking off during a field trip to a natural history museum, and as night rolls on the stuffed animal specimens take on an uncanny resemblance to the people in his life. For example, the piano teacher "Herr Doktor von Loon" soon begins to resemble "a manic-depressive baboon," and the school nurse becomes a "flirtatious and pert pachyderm." Lithgow's rhyme makes for great reading aloud—in fact, the book includes a wonderful bonus CD of the story (enthusiastically read by Lithgow) alternating with the actual Saint-Saens score as performed by Chamber Music Los Angeles. Boris Kulikov's detailed paintings are funny, surreal and imaginative. Every line is telling. When combined with the accompanying CD, the book becomes an exciting introduction to classical music.
Zarina Mullan Plath   ©2004 Parents' Choice
Zarina Mullan Plath has undergraduate degrees in both biology and English. Her interests include cookbooks/culinary history, South Asian literature (especially in regards to South Asians in America), and, of course, children's literature. Her poetry is included in the anthology Sweeping Beauty (U. of Iowa Press, 2005). Zarina lives in Central Illinois with her husband, two children, and assorted pets.

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