The Bremen Town Musicians

Overview

This is the classic tale of four beleaguered animals—a donkey who can no longer work, a hound who can no longer hunt, a cat who's too old to chase mice, and a rooster who's scheduled to become dinner—who decide to run off to be musicians in the town of Bremen. But they get more than they bargained for when they stumble upon a frightful gang of robbers. Maybe they can find a clever way to turn their dreadful singing to their advantage in this wittily illustrated book that's sure to appeal to Ms. Zwerger's many ...
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Overview

This is the classic tale of four beleaguered animals—a donkey who can no longer work, a hound who can no longer hunt, a cat who's too old to chase mice, and a rooster who's scheduled to become dinner—who decide to run off to be musicians in the town of Bremen. But they get more than they bargained for when they stumble upon a frightful gang of robbers. Maybe they can find a clever way to turn their dreadful singing to their advantage in this wittily illustrated book that's sure to appeal to Ms. Zwerger's many fans.
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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 - 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.
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
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: 9780688802332
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/1/1980
  • Language: German
  • Pages: 32
  • Lexile: 830L (what's this?)

Meet the Author

After studying at Marburg, Jacob became a clerk in the War Office at Kassel, and in 1808 librarian to Jerome Bonaparte, King of Westphalia. In 1841 he received Professorship at Berlin, and in 1854 began work on Deutsches Worterbuch with his brother.

Wilhelm Grimm and his brother Jacob are famous for their classical collection of folk songs and folktales, especially for Children's and Household Tales, generally known as Grimm's Fairy Tales.

Bernadette Watts has loved to draw since her childhood in England. She created her first picture book under the influence of Beatrix Potter. Watts studied at the Maidstone Art School in Kent and is the illustrator of North South fairy tales The Snow Queen and The Ugly Duckling.

Wilhelm Grimm and his brother Jacob are famous for their classical collection of folk songs and folktales, especially for Children's and Household Tales, generally known as Grimm's Fairy Tales.

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