Bremen Town Musicians

( 2 )


Once there lived a donkey, a dog, a cat, and a rooster who had grown too old to be useful to their masters. Because their masters want to get rid of them, they run away. They meet on the road and decide to go to Bremen-Town to be street musicians.

Soon, they discover a cozy cabin occupied by robbers. The four friends have an idea and manage to scare the robbers away by making the loudest music they can. Now they can settle into a new home.

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The Bremen Town Musicians

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Once there lived a donkey, a dog, a cat, and a rooster who had grown too old to be useful to their masters. Because their masters want to get rid of them, they run away. They meet on the road and decide to go to Bremen-Town to be street musicians.

Soon, they discover a cozy cabin occupied by robbers. The four friends have an idea and manage to scare the robbers away by making the loudest music they can. Now they can settle into a new home.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

The inimitable Zwerger ('Twas the Night Before Christmas) and experienced translator Bell transform what in other hands has come off as a silly story into a captivating tale about the unwitting triumph of four aged animals who join together to create a band, foil a gang of robbers, and end up finding themselves a home. Zwerger's illustrations convey both poignancy and sly humor. A full-page, skillful portrait introduces each animal character, while at the top, spot art depicts their plights. The weariness of each elderly creature is plaintive, and Zwerger makes clear visually how the robbers might mistake the animals sitting atop each other for a monster. However, at the most dramatic moment of the story, when one of the robbers returns to the house to confront the sleepy animals inside, Zwerger leaves the details to readers' imaginations, using only shadowy gray figures to portray the literal action that occurs. Unlike Ilse Plume's sunny interpretation, this new version of the Grimm story focuses on how the four old creatures, despite their Quixote-like quest to become musicians, end up finding contentment anyway. Bell's translation adheres closely and gracefully to the original, and the theme of what might happen to those who outlive their usefulness ends on an enchanting, happy note. Ages 4-up. (Mar.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Uma Krishnaswami
Generously sized and with elegant glossy endpapers, here is the Anthea Bell translation of a classic tale from the Brothers Grimm. A donkey about to be put out to pasture, or worse, sets out on a journey, planning to go to town and join an orchestra. As he goes, he gathers a vocal animal chorus, each of his new friends having his own sad tale of animal patience and loyalty and human callousness. How they never do get to Bremen Town makes for a lively narrative, illustrated here with carefully detailed paintings that pay equal attention to the landscapes and the animal characters in them. When the friends see robbers feasting in a house, the background turns from white to black as the story makes its own turn toward its comic resolution. Gray silhouettes illustrate the return of the robbers to investigate the unearthly sounds that scared them away. The final pages contrast smaller paintings of the imaginary creatures dreamed up by the frightened robbers, with a fine picture that squarely depicts the pleasant new house in which our friends are right at home. The font occasionally feels cluttered and at times seems poorly placed relative to the white space on the pages facing the illustrations. Bell's translation rolls off the tongue, a joy to read out loud, and the art will make a fine face-out accompaniment to the words. The book concludes with the cryptic story ending: "And the last man to tell this tale is not dead yet." Reviewer: Uma Krishnaswami
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz
The well-known fairy tale concerns four animals, growing old and no longer of use to their owners, who meet on the road. The donkey has decided, for his own reasons, to go to Bremen and join the town band. A dog, a cat, and a rooster soon join him. Stopping for the night, they come to a house where some robbers are enjoying dinner. To get the robbers to leave, they decide to "make music" and jump through the window. The frightened robbers run away, leaving the animals to feast and go to sleep. When one of the robbers ventures back to the house, he is "attacked" by each of the animals in his own way. The robbers dare not return, leaving the animals to enjoy their new home. Zwerger introduces her animal characters on the jacket with fine naturalistic portraits and some tiny group sketches that are repeated on the end-papers. All appear on a dusky blue background suggesting evening. Single-page illustrations combine solitary figures in a sort of mystical emptiness with spare details: a windmill, an iron fence, a few tiny characters, and a meandering path. The atmosphere hints at mystery or perhaps a moral adventure, for this oddly joined animal quartet. A different look is given to the famous story.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2
A competent translation and soft, minimalist paintings recount this oft-told tale. Many of the framed text pages carry a small portrait of a figure featured in the larger facing scene. This story is built around dialogue among a donkey, cat, dog, and rooster and rises to a bit of action in the two scaring-the-robbers scenes. The illustrations keep the speakers in the foreground with almost no details in the colored backgrounds except for very small, wispy overhead vignettes echoing story elements. These small, almost indistinct figures are vague and dreamy, and the soft forms and gentle tone of the pictures never build the humor usually associated with the plucky "musicians" and the villains. It's a pleasant introduction to the story, but the renditions by Hans Wilhelm (Scholastic, 1992), Janet Stevens (Holiday House, 1992), Ilse Plume (Yearling, 1998), and Paul Galdone (McGraw-Hill, 1968; o.p.) are stronger.
—Margaret BushCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Carolyn Phelan
Stevens' picture book features impressionistic illustrations in ink, pastels, and gouache done on tawny, handmade paper. Lively and expressive, the artwork dramatizes the Grimms' familiar tale in a child-pleasing style that plays up both the pathos and the broad humor of the story. Despite the many versions already available on library shelves, consider this one if there's room for one more. A promising choice for reading aloud.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780880105835
  • Publisher: SteinerBooks, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/28/2007
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 416,267
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 11.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Lisbeth Zwerger lives in Vienna, Austria.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 2 )
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