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The Remarkable Farkle McBride

The Remarkable Farkle McBride

3.6 6
by John Lithgow

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In his first book, actor and musician John Lithgow introduces a memorable character, a fickle yet lovable child prodigy who brings the sounds and rhythms of an orchestra to sprawling visual life. With a double gatefold showing the entire orchestra, this is the ultimate book for the music lover in all of us.


In his first book, actor and musician John Lithgow introduces a memorable character, a fickle yet lovable child prodigy who brings the sounds and rhythms of an orchestra to sprawling visual life. With a double gatefold showing the entire orchestra, this is the ultimate book for the music lover in all of us.

Editorial Reviews

Beloved actor and musician John Lithgow delivers his first book for children -- a stunning, sensational picture book that sings! The young hero, freckle-faced Farkle McBride, is a musical genius: He plays the violin, the flute, the trombone, and the drums with incredible skill. But he's never satisfied: Something is missing. Then one day he comes to the aid of the orchestra's conductor and discovers the beauty of collaboration -- and his true calling. A bright, lively book that brings the sounds and rhythms of an orchestra to sprawling visual life, The Remarkable Farkle McBride features a double gatefold showing the entire orchestra, making it the ultimate book for the music lover in all of us.
Publishers Weekly
In what PW called "a romp of a tale," a prodigy's quest for the perfect instrument leads him through virtually every section of the orchestra until he steps in for an ill conductor. "The nimble verse with a limerick's beat sparkles." Ages 4-8. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
No stranger to music (he released a CD for children titled "Singin' in the Bathtub"), actor Lithgow pens a romp of a tale about a prodigy whose quest for the perfect instrument leads him through virtually every section of the orchestra. "When Farkle McBride was a three-year-old tyke,/ All freckle-y, bony, and thin,/ He astonished his friends and his family alike/ By playing superb violin." After his debut, the easily dissatisfied diminutive genius trades in his fiddle for a flute ("He went Rootle-ee/ Tootle-ee/ Tootle-ee Too/ With all of the winds at his side"), then a trombone and subsequently percussion, all to no avail. Not until he steps in for an ill conductor does he finds his niche; a gatefold spread shows him ("satisfied!") in front of "all the instruments he ever tried." Lithgow's nimble verse with a limerick's beat sparkles as he introduces readers to the various instruments and their sounds. Payne's outrageously droll mixed media illustrations, with their blend of caricature and realism, recall Kathryn Hewitt's work in Lives of the Musicians. Although Farkle is remarkably difficult to please, his tale may well strike a chord with anyone who's ever made overtures at musicianship. Ages 4-8. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Child prodigy Farkle McBride plays superb violin at three, the flute at five, trombone at seven, and percussion at nine, but no instrument satisfies him for long. At four he smashes his violin, at six he tosses his flute into a pond, and at eight he upends his trombone into a trashcan. In rollicking tongue-tickling rhyme, actor John Lithgow tells the story of "The Remarkable Farkle McBride," who eventually finds satisfaction as a conductor. Payne's exuberant illustrations almost burst from the pages, and his exaggerated facial expressions and perspectives match the tall tale qualities of the story. The musical instruments are lovingly and accurately drawn, and the background for the text is covered with musical symbols, which should please young musicians and their teachers. Musical also in it use of language, this is a story that begs to be read aloud, and is sure to be a hit at story times. 2000, Simon & Schuster, $17.00. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Linnea Hendrickson
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-At the age of three, Farkle McBride has mastered the violin, at five the flute, two years later the trombone, and by nine the entire percussion section. Unfortunately, the musical prodigy quickly tires of each new accomplishment and grows annoyed by the sounds he produces. It is only when the conductor is too ill to lead the orchestra and the child is asked to substitute that he realizes his true calling. "Poor Farkle at ten, howsoever renowned,/Reached the end of his/musical tether./But then he discovered his/favorite sound:/Musicians all playing together." The boy takes his final bow on an impressive double-gatefold spread with the orchestra behind him and his audience obviously well pleased. From the musical mobile dangling above his bassinet on the opening pages to the congratulatory bouquet at the end, it is clear that Farkle is a born musician; however, it is his sheer capriciousness that provides this contemporary tall tale with its zany humor. Payne's realistic mixed-media illustrations contain whimsical details and lots of musical innuendoes; the text appears on pages lightly imprinted with musical notation. The grotesquely enlarged heads of many characters and the dire fates suffered by several instruments are disconcerting at first but deliver a visual punch. The jaunty rhyme scheme with lots of onomatopoeia will have listeners "deedle-eeing" and "tootle-ee tooing" right along. Pair this wry and witty read-aloud with Lloyd Moss's Zin! Zin! Zin!: A Violin (S & S, 1995).-Carol Ann Wilson, Westfield Memorial Library, NJ Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Clarissa Cruz
Filled with rhythmic onomatopoeic phrases, Farkle is best read aloud, But the tale of a young musical prodigy who systematically masters, then destroys every instrument bears a handy lesson as well: Farkle discovers that music sounds most beautiful when different instruments work together...check out the expressive, lifelike depictions of Farkle, who was modeled after illustrator C.F. Paynes's son, Evan.
Entertainment Weekly
Kirkus Reviews
A welcome debut from an accomplished actor, the remarkable Lithgow. Limericklike rhyming text recounts the tale of a musical prodigy, Farkle McBride, who from age three, masters, then discards, instrument after instrument in the quest to satisfy his musical passions. Beginning with the violin Lithgow provides unique onomatopoeic tones for the instruments: "He went Reedleee, Deedleee, Deedleee Dee with all the strings at his side." The trombone: " He went Vroompety, Doompety, Doompety Doom . . ." and percussion: " He went Boom, Bash, Clangama Clash! All the clamor that he could provide." Yet the older McBride grows, the more dissatisfied he becomes with his accomplishments until finally given the opportunity to conduct, "his happy heart sings, / To brass, drums, winds, and strings, / And remarkable Farkle's at last SATISFIED." The story ends with a sweeping, dramatic, fourpage panoramic gatefold featuring the proud tenyearold standing on a symphony hall stage in front of an entire orchestra. Payne's (True Heart, 1999) humorous mixedmedia illustrations feature characters with oversized heads and exaggerated features, changing pointsofview, and a variety of textures. Often the text is set on a background of giant notes and the format itself is as outsized as Farkle's personality. Encore! (Picture book. 48)

Product Details

Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
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Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

John Lithgow is the New York Times bestselling author of I Got Two Dogs; Mahalia Mouse Goes to College; Marsupial Sue Presents: The Runaway Pancake; I’m A Manatee; Micawber; Marsupial Sue; The Remarkable Farkle McBride; and Carnival of the Animals. An award-winning actor, he has starred on stage, film, and television. He performs concerts across the country and has recorded the CDs Farkle and Friends, Singin’ in the Bathtub, and The Sunny Side of the Street. Visit John at JohnLithgow.com.
C. F. Payne has illustrated more than a dozen picture books, including the New York Times bestselling Mousetronaut by astronaut Mark Kelly, the Texas Bluebonnet winner Shoeless Joe & Black Betsy, written by Phil Bildner, and the New York Times bestsellers The Remarkable Farkle McBride and Micawber, both by John Lithgow. He teaches at the Columbus College of Design, where he is the chair of the Illustration Department. Payne lives with his wife and children in Cincinnati, Ohio. Visit him online at CFPayne.com.

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The Remarkable Farkle Mcbride 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
bugabooJS More than 1 year ago
We have enjoyed all of Lithgow's books. Farkle was our first. My husband is a musician and music educator he does not have the same reservations about the book as one of the previous reviewers. We both feel that this book introduces children to different music sections in a fun way. Lighten up, have a little fun, and enjoy!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought the paperback of the Remarkable Farkle McBride as a companion gift for a child to go with the CD Farkle and Friends. The pictures are charming, and the audio recording is terrific. This text is not identical to the recorded audio: some of the sections on the audio are expanded and use a different narration. But it may work if you skip the sections that are different (that may depend on the child in question).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book that i think you all should read. I had a music teacher that did. Yes, pleez read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Farkle McBride' sends a number of disgusting, misleading, destructive messages: 1. It's possible to master a musical instrument without years of hard work. 2. It's ok to destroy musical instruments you no longer want to play. 3. Parents happily reward such behavior by buying their little sociopath yet another instrument to destroy. 4. Such a monsterously spoiled and destructive child will finally find happiness and a rewarding musical outlet conducting an orchestra.