Peter and the Wolf


Sergei Prokofiev composed his Peter and the Wolf in 1936 with the hope of introducing children to the instruments of the orchestra. It happens that he also devised a wonderfully dramatic story. The characters - boy, bird, duck, cat, grandfather, wolf, hunters - and their doings have been beloved by young and old for decades.

Writer, artist, musician, and Caldecott Medalist Chris Raschka has given the original story a new setting: a stage performance. Here you will relish ...

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Sergei Prokofiev composed his Peter and the Wolf in 1936 with the hope of introducing children to the instruments of the orchestra. It happens that he also devised a wonderfully dramatic story. The characters - boy, bird, duck, cat, grandfather, wolf, hunters - and their doings have been beloved by young and old for decades.

Writer, artist, musician, and Caldecott Medalist Chris Raschka has given the original story a new setting: a stage performance. Here you will relish language inspired music; enjoy mischief, suspense, and triumph in the theater; and delight in a surprise (and an additional character) Prokofiev's merry tale didn't provide. Please do not turn immediately to the last page.

A retelling of the orchestral fairy tale in which Peter ignores his grandfather's warnings and proceeds to capture a wolf.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal - Audio
PreS-Gr 3—Grammy Award-winner Jim Dale artfully narrates the beloved tale of young Peter and his animal friends, and introduces a new generation to a story that has delighted audiences for three-quarters of a century. Written by Sergei Prokofiev, the story helps children become familiar with some of the instruments in the orchestra, while spinning a harrowing tale. Unlike other versions that have changed the ending or added narration, this presentation is more faithful to the original composition. The recording begins by introducing the characters and the instruments that will represent them. Young Peter ventures out beyond the garden gate, despite his grandfather's warnings about the vicious wolf living in the woods. Grandfather soon brings him back home, but then disaster strikes and the wolf gobbles up duck. Peter once again sneaks out and, with the help of his friends, cat and bird, captures the wolf with a very clever trick. Hunters who come out of the woods want to shoot the wolf, but Peter convinces them to take him to the zoo. Everyone then proceeds to the zoo, with the duck, still alive, quacking inside the wolf's belly! The music is superbly performed by the Seattle Symphony. A different instrument portrays each character and Jim Dale is a master of narration. He gives each character a distinct voice, telling Peter's tale with wit and great suspense. A wonderful introduction to the orchestra, and a delightful classic tale.—MaryAnn Karre, Horace Mann and Thomas Jefferson Elementary Schools, Binghamton, NY
Publishers Weekly

As in his interpretation of John Coltrane in Giant Steps, Raschka now turns Sergei Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf into poetry and pictures. The illustrations present the story as a theatrical performance (action unfolds alternately in freestanding illustrations and on an elaborate stage), but without an orchestra. As Peter cavorts, calmly but boldly opening himself to the climactic encounter with the wolf, Raschka conveys the mounting suspense in lilting words, swerving zigzags and curves. Carefree Peter is supported by an animal chorus in sound poetry, including a blue bird who speaks in stutters and rhyme, and of course the predator, who swallows the duck with a panting, "Gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme... GULP!" Raschka's pictures-of characters venturing close to the wolf's bear-trap jaws, of the cat's enormous face looming over a tiny Peter-gain extra energy from geometrically shaped color blocks on the same spreads; each character is assigned a certain spectrum-e.g., red for the wolf-like the solo instruments in Prokofiev. His book best rewards patient readers capable of linking the continuous dialogue and amped-up visuals in the action spreads with scenes viewed within a complex, 3D cut-paper theater. One reading will not be enough to appreciate the artist's keen attention to detail. Ages 3-7. (Oct.)

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Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Since its debut in the '30s, Prokofiev's now-classic orchestral fairy tale of a boy who captures a wolf with the aid of some animal friends has been hugely popular. Here, with a nod to its musical origins (an introductory illustration showing each of the characters with his corresponding instrument), Lemieux ( A Gift from St. Francis ; Voices on the Wind ) delivers a straightforward, tightly written version of the tale. She takes some liberties--the hunters cart the wolf off to the zoo in the end, for example, instead of slitting him open to free the duck he's consumed--and purists may lament the separation of the story from its musical score, but children will still thrill to the bravery of Peter, who ignores his grandfather's warnings and catches a wolf by the tail. Dark, highly stylized oil paintings resound with suitably Russian elements--Grandfather looks like Tolstoy, the hunters are dressed as Cossacks--and create a fittingly atmospheric backdrop to this beloved story. All ages. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Kristin Harris
The classic story is set in the great northern woods. Peter lives with his grandfather in a fortress to protect them from the dangers of the woods, specifically the wolf. One morning, Peter plays with the cat, the duck and the bird in the meadow outside the gate. As soon as Peter goes back inside, the wolf appears and goes after the duck. Peter sees it all from the window, and must go back outside and help his friends. They manage to tie up the wolf, just as the hunters come to shoot it. Peter suggests that they take him to the zoo, and that is what they do, via wheelbarrow.
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
All the characters in the symphonic fairy tale are brought to life in their forest setting, along with Peter's house and the pond in the meadow. Peter's friend the bird banters with the duck, closely tracked by the cat. Grandfather warns Peter not to leave the garden gate open because of the dangerous wolf, but Peter is not afraid. When the hungry wolf actually turns up and gobbles the duck, Peter catches him with the aid of the bird. He will not let the hunters shoot the trussed-up wolf, so they all take him to the zoo instead. Gukova's double-page, relatively naturalistic, richly textured opaque paintings tell the tale episode by episode, adding details that give body to the action. Peter is a buoyant redhead, but the wolf is perhaps the real star. We see the transformation from an open-mouthed beast with scores of sharp teeth, to a horrified victim, to a smiling wolf in Peter's wheelbarrow. The bumbling hunters add comic relief. 1999, North-South Books, Ages 5 to 8, $15.95 and $15.88. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz—Children's Literature
Library Journal
K-Gr 2-Wiencirz attempts to flesh out the basic story by adding dialogue and description. Unfortunately, rather than adding to the overall impact of the story, this effort only seems to make it more wordy. The clipped sentences sound slightly stilted: "One morning Peter woke up early. He went out into the garden and looked around. Where was his friend the little bird? Peter gave a soft whistle." Compare that passage to Patricia Crampton's Peter and the Wolf (Picture Book Studio, 1987; o.p.): "Only Peter's friend the bird, perched at the top of a big tree, sang the song of the peaceful meadow and the quiet, blue pond." Gukova's illustrations, reminiscent of Eastern European folk art, are more successful than the text. The animals, in particular, are nicely portrayed and seem to have distinct personalities as they interact. The design is basic-a single block of text placed on a double-page painting. Librarians needing a version of this story would be better served by Selina Hastings's Peter and the Wolf (Holt, 1995) or Patricia Crampton's book.-Tim Wadham, Maricopa County Library District, Phoenix, AZ Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 5

Without musical notation, how does one convey the thematic phrases and unique rhythms associated with each character created by Sergei Prokofiev in his classic introduction to the instruments of the orchestra? The ever-experimental, sound-sensitive Raschka employs color, shape, line, and idiosyncratic language to distinguish each cast member in his utterly beguiling production. Characters appear one after the other on sequential versos to offer opening monologues. Peter enters on a strip of chartreuse, his large, oval face topped by a Russian cap, his lyrical style inspired by e. e. cummings: "See I/Spin around and twirl around and jump around/In this perfect, most perfect/Place I've been." The bluebird twitters a jazzy scat on a path of cheerful yellow. The menacing wolf-all jagged lines and primal grunts against a field of red-gobbles the oblivious duck, as has been destined. Rectos feature a stage framed in brown columns and constructed from four sheets of painted paper that have been glued together; the resulting shadows produce a convincing depth. The action occurs as the watercolor figures, outlined with Raschka's signature thick strokes, interpret their roles. The three hunters enter in a martial bluster, but ultimately the entire crew proceeds to the zoo. Gentle readers and purists alike will appreciate Raschka's solution to the duck's fate; he allows readers to choose either Prokofiev's finale (so labeled) or his one-page epilogue in which a veterinarian performs "emergency surgery." Make room for this inventive, spirited interpretation. A bravura performance from a musical maestro.-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library

School Library Journal
Gr 4-8A new interpretation of the often-illustrated tale. Charles Mikolaycak's Peter and the Wolf (Viking, 1986) has realistic colored-pencil drawings of handsome Russian peasants. Jorg Muller's oversized version (Knopf, 1986; o.p.) opens and closes with a theater stage where musicians perform Prokofiev's classic orchestral piece. Ian Beck's toylike figures (Atheneum, 1995) make the tale accessible to younger children. In contrast, Prado's interpretation tells the story in blocks or panels that are dark in hue and heavy with psychological meaning. The hand-written text appears in the corners of the small, framed pictures. Dark night and green forest make it difficult to discern the action as Peter follows the bird, duck, and cat into the frightening forest. Danger is almost palpable as the cat's sharp teeth narrowly miss the bird, and the giant gray wolf emerges from the gloom and swallows the duck. With the bird's help, Peter catches the wolf by his tail and the hunters shoot him. Briefly, the boy feels regret at having destroyed a magnificent beast, but quickly forgets when the villagers admire his bravery. "Vanity is as insatiable as the hunger of wild animals," reads the text. "So it goes." This version is not at all suitable for storyhours because of its dark setting and minute text. The aura of menace and fear that pervades it suggests that it should be used with older children who can understand Peter's pride and rebelliousness and can appreciate the artist's wry, comedic renderings.Shirley Wilton, Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ
Kirkus Reviews

Language chosen for its sound at least as much as for its meaning lends an improvisatory air to this rendition of Prokofiev's musical tale, and theatrical illustrations definitely kick things up an additional notch. Having introduced themselves, the bird and the duck fall into an argument—"And the bird answers back: D-ducky d-dacky d-docky d-deeky. / And the duck answers back: Waieo, waieo, waieo, waieo"—before the cat and the wolf enter, Peter lassos the wolf and the hunters ("We are the men, / We are the men, / We are the men who hunt…") arrive to carry the captive off in triumph. For the art, Raschka alternates stylized pictures of the characters drawn in thick crayon and daubs of color with photos of elaborately decorated, ingeniously designed stage sets constructed from layers of cut and painted paper. He does make changes to the original's cast and plot in order to make the happy ending more explicit, but he's far from the first to do that. Among the plethora of Peters, his stands out for its seamless, jazzy match of verbal and visual exuberance. (Picture book. 6-8)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781455825455
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio
  • Publication date: 10/1/2011
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Product dimensions: 2.81 (w) x 9.06 (h) x 0.39 (d)

Meet the Author

Chris Rashka was born in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, which is named for Selma Shirley Hastings, Countess of Huntingdon in England, the leader of Calvinist sect of the Methodist Church, known for her missionary zeal. He grew up in Lombard, Illinois, named for Josiah L. Lombard, a landowner; then later lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan, named for the wives of John Allen and Elisha Rumsey, both named Ann. He now lives with his wife and son in New York City, named for the grand old Duke of York.

Also by the author are the following books: the Caldecott Honor Book Yo! Yes?; Charlie Parker Played Be Bop; Mysterious Thelonious; John Coltrane's Giant Steps; and Can't Sleep.

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