I’m looking for a book about… music

posted in: 2. Illustrators and Authors | 21

Welcome to “I’m looking for a book about….”, the topic-themed monthly carnival of children’s literature.

Every month I’ll be encouraging anyone who likes to review books for children (of any age) to leave links to their reviews of books that match the given month’s theme. The idea is that over time, this carnival will become a resource for parents, teachers, carers, librarians looking for books by subject.

Old reviews, new reviews, and reviews for any age are welcome. You may also submit multiple reviews, as long as they are all relevant to this month’s theme.

This month’s theme is…


Below you’ll find links to reviews of books for all ages of kids with a music theme. If, however, you are looking for music themed activities to go with the books below you should check out this month’s brilliant round up hosted by Maggy in her latest Red Ted Art Get Crafty post. It’s always a pleasure to team up with Maggy!

First up is Ali at Fantastic Reads with reviews of Chartbreak by Gillian Cross and Apple Bough by Noel Streatfeild. The former is about a runaway who joins a band (and is partly set in my current home town), whilst the latter is about a family of talented dancers, actors and musicians.

Jackie has a round up of five pictures books filled with music and rhythm over at Culture Street. “While some introduce children to the beauty of music, others on this list encourage children to take part and bring the sounds alive.

Back on her own blog, My Little Bookcase, Jackie highlights Herman and Rosie by Gus Gordon. Jackie writes, “It’s not difficult to spend hours ogling over the illustrations in this book…. With Gus’ beautifully written text and endearing story, Herman and Rosie will work its way into your heart, I’m sure.

The Cello by James Riordan is reviewed on Did you ever stop to think & forget to start again?Published in 2003, it’s one of the few ‘modern’ books that deals overtly with extreme musical talent in people with impoverished backgrounds.” This made me think of an radio programme I heard yesterday about an opera singer who was born in Harlem – I wonder if Noah Stewart has read this interesting sounding book.

Zin! Zin! Zin! A violin by Lloyd Moss, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman is recommended by blog reader Choxbox. You can watch/listen to a video of the book being read here:

Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin from WVPT on Vimeo.

Read It, Daddy! recommends Mr Big by Ed Vere, “a great jazz-fuelled book with big bold illustrations.

Katy Manck at Books YA Love has two books to recommend: Ten Miles Past Normal by by Frances O’Roark Dowell and I’ll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan. Katy sums up the fomer with three words – “goats, guitars, determination“, whilst the latter “is lyric in description and rich in characters that readers will long remember as they hum the classic hit song whose title it shares“.

Tricia, who blogs at The Miss Rumphius Effect has two posts about musical poetry. The first part focusses on jazz inspired poetry and includes reviews and sample poems from Jazz, written by Walter Dean Myers and illustrated by Christopher Myers and Jazz ABZ: An A to Z Collection of Jazz Portraits with Art Print, written by Wynton Marsalis and illustrated by Paul Rogers. The second part has a broader focus and includes reviews and poems from Song Shoots Out of My Mouth, written by Jaime Adoff and illustrated Martin French, and Roots and Blues: A Celebration, written by Arnold Adoff and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. Both posts are full of exciting suggestions and have left me eager to track down several of the books Tricia recommends.

Amy at Picture-Book-A-Day has three lovely, jazzy suggestions for us: Jazz on a Saturday Night by Leo & Diane Dillon, This Jazz Man by Karen Ehrhardt, Illustrated by R. G. Roth, and Before John was a Jazz Giant: A Song of John Coltrane by Carole Boston Weatherford, Illustrated by Sean Qualls. Each book sounds amazing and Amy includes suggestions for books to pair with each of her choices, plus activities related to each book which would be fun to do with kids.

I love the sound (sorry, no pun intended) of Tuba Lessons, by T. C. Bartlett and Monique Felix, reviewed by Kerry at Picture Books & Pirouettes. It’s an almost wordless “fanciful story of a young boy’s adventures on his way to music class” which Kerry has recommended to a colleague who runs creative movement classes.

Marjorie at Paper Tigers has curated an amazing, must-read round-up of multicultural picture books about music. I’d love to be able to read every single book on her list, from The Flute Player: An Apache Folktale by Michael Lacapa to Requiem for a Beast by Matt Ottley. If you want to be adventurous and discover some new music as well as some new books, I cannot recommend Marjorie’s selection highly enough.

Capptivated Kids reviews six musical apps, some of them book apps, others activity apps, including Léon and Apolline by Avant-Goût Studios and A Fine Musician by The Trustee for the Tokeru Trust. I’m so glad she reminded me of of this one:

When Bob met Woody by Gary Golio and Marc Burckhardt is Jama Rattigan‘s choice for today’s roundup. “Golio’s lyrical prose nicely interweaves working class values, the lure of the outside world, and burgeoning social consciousness with the singular brand of emotional intensity, focus and ambition that characterized the young Dylan” whilst “Marc Burckhardt’s fabulous illustrations — acrylic and oil on paper mounted on board — are rendered in rich, warm hues with a crackle finish, evoking classic Americana.

On the basis of the submissions to this carnival, Jazz and children’s books seem have some special affinity! Amy at Delightful Children’s Books has 9 Books to Introduce Children to Jazz. She’s also created a YouTube jazz playlist with videos selected to appeal to children – definitely worth look!

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, written by Tom Skinner, illustrated by Annie White is recommended by The Book Chook. Susan writes, “I love how both author and illustrator have woven fantasy into this tale, but also added modern day elements like the Car and Camel Wash. There’s humour too in plays on words and the colourful, detailed illustrations.

The collective brain on Twitter came up with some great suggestions including Lemony Snicket’s The Composer Is Dead, The Happy Hedgehog Band by Martin Waddell, The Mozart Season by Virginia Euwer Wolff, Miles the Crocodile Plays the Colors of Jazz: Baby Loves Jazz by Andy Blackman and Andrew Cunningham, and Little Boy with a Big Horn by Jack Bechdolt, illustrated by Amelia Battaglia. Thanks to @FlossieTeacake, @bookhappyltd, @OlivaceousD, @PamatPlay and @daveshelton.

Do please come back tomorrow when the wonderfully talented author and illustrator Clara Vulliamy has another of her brilliant Mini-books for us, full of prompts for telling stories all about music 🙂

21 Responses

  1. choxbox

    Don’t blog any more so here’s my reco – Zin Zin Zin A Violin. Our all-time favourite.

  2. maggy, red ted art

    Zoe, you have reminded me that *somewhere* I have a book all about classical music (+ CDs), that I bought in a fit of enthusiasm when my son was about 1 years old (it is aimed at 5yrs olds). I need to go and find it.

    And thanks for getting me to do the music round up, I now want to make a guitar!!

    maggy, red ted art recently posted..15 Musical Instrument Crafts for Kids

    • Zoe

      Hi Maggy, good luck finding it. I know there’s a great Dutch series about composers with CDs, beautifully illustrated by top (Dutch) illustrators. Is yours a German book?

  3. Marjorie (PaperTigers)

    Hi Zoe, just replied on Twitter that I put together a list of multicultural music stories on PaperTigers a couple fo years ago – http://www.papertigers.org/personalViews/archiveViews/MCoughlan3.html

    I read a story at the end of my session with 4-6 year olds in a local choir – I’ve used a number of the stories in that list: Abiyoyo is hugely popular (Picture BIG, ROUND eyes – “Mummy, did you know there’s a giant called Abiyoyo and he ate a WHOLE cow?!”), also Igor the Bird Who Couldn’t Sing. They also love Mr Big, and last week I read Jake the Philarmonic Dog by Karin LeFrak/Marsin Baranski – delightful! Also, another beautiful recent book is The Flute by Rachna Gilmore/Pilak Biswas – here’s my review – http://www.papertigers.org/reviews/USA/papertigers/TheFlute.html

    Well, I’d better stop there :-)I’m going to check out other people’s suggestions now…
    Marjorie (PaperTigers) recently posted..Poetry Friday: Billy Collins Action Poetry – “Now and Then” animated by Eun-Ha Paek

  4. Tricia

    Hi Zoe,

    I have two posts about music in poetry. Here’s where you can find them.

    Poetry in the Classroom – Just Jazz

    Poetry in the Classroom – More Music

    Thanks for hosting this round-up. I can’t wait to read about the books that folks have chosen.

    Tricia recently posted..Monday Poetry Stretch – On the Road

  5. Amy Seto Musser

    Hi Zoe,

    Thanks for hosting this round-up! And on one of my favorite subjects! I think music is a great way to hook kids into reading and to keep their attention. I blog about a picture book a day, so I’ve used the “add link” tool to upload a few of my favorites.


  6. Cheryl

    We love “Zin Zin a Violin” which features many instruments from the orchestra and slightly outside the theme our other musical favourite picture book is”Peter and the Wolf” with the soundtrack cd,(we like the David Bowie narration).

    • Zoe

      Iona, I’m with you on that. Have you seen the new Julia Donaldson books with Barrington Stokes? They are easy readers and look fun. There’s a review of them on Library Mice’s blog.

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