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Jake the Philharmonic Dog

Jake the Philharmonic Dog

5.0 1
by Karen LeFrak, Marcin Baranski (Illustrator)

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Like most dogs, Jake loves playing fetch. Unlike most dogs, Jake loves music even more. He loves to wag his tail to the beat of an ordinary day and "sing" with the birds. When his friend Richie, the principal stagehand at the Philharmonic, brings Jake to work one day, Jake is treated to a lesson in real music. He "woofs!" to the tweeting woodwinds and "ruffs!" to


Like most dogs, Jake loves playing fetch. Unlike most dogs, Jake loves music even more. He loves to wag his tail to the beat of an ordinary day and "sing" with the birds. When his friend Richie, the principal stagehand at the Philharmonic, brings Jake to work one day, Jake is treated to a lesson in real music. He "woofs!" to the tweeting woodwinds and "ruffs!" to the deep horns, but when he hears the entire symphony orchestra practice, he knows to be quiet and listen. And when a crisis develops at that night's performance, Jake steps onstage and steals the show.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“More Bach than bark! This is a wonderful read for dog lovers, music lovers, and any child who loves a good story. Jake is certain to win Best in Show.” —Itzhak Perlman, world-renowned violinist

“This is a sheer delight. The world needs lots of Jakes. It's a must for kids of all ages, and a great introduction to the magical world of the orchestra.” —Beverly Sills, American opera singer and international opera star

“I have met Jake backstage at the Philharmonic, and he is a friendly dog with heroic qualities, like Snoopy, Toto, Nana, and Old Yeller, worthy of a book. Life at a great orchestra is much more fun with a good dog nearby.” —Garrison Keillor, author and host of A Prairie Home Companion

“Karen LeFrak has written an enchanting story for children that is also an outstanding introduction to the world of the orchestra.” —Lorin Maazel, Music Director of the New York Philharmonic

Publishers Weekly
Like other stories of its ilk (Tess Weaver's Opera Cat; James the Dancing Dog by Linda Maybarduk), this tale features an animal with a preternatural appreciation for a lively art who is fortuitously awarded a place in the spotlight. For Jake, a wide-eyed, black-and-white pooch, this means being anointed "principal stagepaw." LeFrak, a member of the New York Philharmonic board of directors, will donate her share of the book's proceeds to benefit the orchestra. Unfortunately, the book is more well-intentioned than well-executed. The author makes good use of Jake as a reader surrogate when he trots through the various orchestra sections. "Jake!" says the dog's owner (the human principal stagehand, whose job it is to bring the conductor his baton at the start of each performance), "That's not a car horn. That's a French horn! See? The brass instruments are warming up now!" But the narrative feels flabby: incidents seem strung together, with little dramatic tension. Barnaski, a Polish artist making his children's book debut, works in rich acrylics and temperas, and saturates every page in dense, alluring color. His renderings of Jake evince a sweet cartoon sensibility, and while he's less adept at painting individual humans (they look a bit stiff), his group portraits of musicians effectively convey their concentration, dedication and elan. Ages 4-7. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Carol Raker Collins
Jake (based on an actual orchestral mascot) is no ordinary pet. His tail wags with the beat of a baton, and he sings accompaniment to birds and car horns. But the sound of thunder sends him running in circles with his tail between his legs. When Richie, his owner, discovers that violin music calms Jake down, the New York Philharmonic stagehand decides to take his philharmonic dog to work. During the orchestra's rehearsal, Jake "woofs" to the bird sounds of the woodwinds, "ruffs" to the French horns, and runs around whimpering at the crash and boom of the drums. Only the soothing sound of the string instruments settles him down. It is not until Jake mistakes the conductor's baton for a stick to play with that the real evening's drama begins. Fortunately, Jake redeems himself and receives an ovation of "Bravos!" as he begins a new concert tradition. This is an entertaining story that introduces the child to orchestral sections, individual instruments, and other related terminology, such as coda (or tail). A glossary gives specific definitions while the story demonstrates the meanings. The illustrations mingle the actual scenes with pictures of sounds themselves. As the woodwinds play, there are birds flying overhead. Waves of tiny violins wafting over Jake depict the sound of these instruments. A musical note hits Jake on his head as the sound of the orchestra tuning up awakens him from a nap. Obviously, the illustrator had fun with harmony-loving Jake and so will children.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-2-Jake, canine friend to Richie, the principal stagehand of the Philharmonic Orchestra, answers the birds, the cars, and the clap of thunder with a distinct bark, a wagging tail, or flattened ears and a whine. Jake simply loves sound. His first trip to Richie's workplace confounds him as he confuses car horns with the brass section and the rumble of thunder with the boom of the percussion section. It also results in his false identification of the conductor's wand as a new toy and eventual duty as "principal stagepaw." LeFrak introduces musical terms within the story, including identification of the instruments. Illustrations, done in acrylic and tempera paint, frame the account of the pup's activities. This straightforward, predictable story will appeal to dog lovers and may serve as a painless introduction to the orchestra as well. Pair it with Alan Madison's Pecorino's First Concert (S & S, 2005) or Lloyd Moss's eye-catching Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin (S & S, 1995).-Mary Elam, Forman Elementary School, Plano, TX Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An appealing dog named Jake learns all about the orchestra in this cheery story illustrated in crayon-bright colors using an oversized format. When Jake is adopted by the principal stagehand of a major orchestra, they both spend lots of time backstage at rehearsals. Jake is introduced to the different instruments and sections of the orchestra, with the appropriate terms integrated as labels into the illustrations. Jake finds an interesting "stick" backstage, thereby saving a performance when he returns the baton to the conductor at the beginning of the concert-starting a new tradition for the orchestra. Two final pages of notes define the musical terms used in the text. Teachers will find this story useful for introducing the orchestra to students, and children will enjoy Jake's charming personality and his unusual looks (two white feet and two black ones). (Picture book. 4-9)

Product Details

Walker & Company
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
10.01(w) x 11.59(h) x 0.42(d)
Age Range:
4 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

Karen LeFrak is a philanthropic New Yorker involved in many charitable endeavors in the city and state, including being an active member of the New York Philharmonic Board of Directors. She is an avid dog-lover, breeding and showing champion poodles. Karen and two of her retired champion poodles visit pediatric units in hospitals to provide animal-assisted therapy. She is married to Richard LeFrak, President of the LeFrak Organization, and they have two sons, Harrison and James. Together they divide their time between Manhattan and Southampton, with their flock of poodles. Karen will be donating her proceeds from this book to the New York Philharmonic.

Marcin Baranski doesn't own a dog yet, but after completing this book, he thinks that one might be the perfect addition to his new garden. Over the past six years, he has a become well-known illustrator for Cosmopolitan magazine. Marcin is an illustrator and a painter, and he lives in Krakow, Poland, with his wife and son. This is Marcin's first children's book.

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Jake the Philharmonic Dog 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago