Every child I’ve known has loved music – classical, rock, and kids music. My daughters would rather sing than talk, most days! But introducing instruments and how performers prepare for their concerts is more difficult. We were able to take part in a fabulous day where my kids could try instruments and even conduct a quartet! Knowing this isn’t possible for everyone, here are some great books that may very well get your kids ready to sit quietly at a performance! (though if you can go to outdoor performances in good weather, that’s always great for fidgety little ones!)
Start off with the silly Pecorino’s First Concert by Alan Madison, illustrated by AnnaLaura Cantone. Pecorino Sasquatch is a silly boy, and his name may well produce fits of giggles. Pecorino’s mother takes him to a concert, and he decides to explore the instruments. Do Not pick up this book as an instruction manual on how to behave at a concert! It’s more of a What Not to Do book, as Pecorino gets stuck in the Tuba, and they have to find a way to get him out! This is a silly, funny, and engaging book, and also one that does show a lot about how an orchestra works, it just does it in an unorthodox way.
Paul Tripp has written Tubby the Tuba with illustrations by Henry Cole, and a CD with classical music enclosed. In this book, the orchestra members are all anthropomorphic instruments. Tubby feels left out, because he carries the bass line rather than the melody and racing helter-skelter through the scales. He asks the (stuffy) conductor if he can perform a tune, and the others laugh at him. When he leaves the orchestra, he meets a frog who helps him discover the tunes that are inside him (along with the important oompa oompas). Happily ever after, the orchestra plays Tubby’s tune. It’s a sweet picture book that also shows all the different instruments and their jobs within the orchestra. The CD has a reading of the book, complete with orchestral backdrop.
A completely different side of musical performance is shown in Opera Cat by Tess Weaver, illustrated by Andrea Wesson. Alma is the cat of Madame SoSo, an opera singer. She listens in on Madame SoSo’s rehearsals with Maestro, and whispers the opera as Madame sings. Alma loves the opera as much as Maestro or Madame SoSo, and when Madame gets laryngitis, who other than Alma could sing the opera for her? You truly haven’t appreciated opera until you’ve seen an opera singer create a hairdo that will hide a cat! Beyond the silliness, this book is great at introducing the vocabulary and idea of opera to youngsters.
Who knows, maybe after reading these books you can move beyond only listening to children’s music! It’s a lovely idea, anyhow. All three of these books were well loved by all 3 child-reviewers (and overdue at the library) through multiple readings. The adult reviewers liked them too, and they do stand up well through multiple readings.