The Carnival of the Animals

Overview

A great way to introduce children to classical music.

America’s first Children's Poet Laureate has written all-new verses to accompany the composer Camille Saint-Saëns’s The Carnival of the Animals, and the illustrator of the Harry Potter books has turned these rollicking rhymes into a picture-book fun fest. Included is a CD of the music and of Jack Prelutsky reading the verses. A note to parents and teachers by Judith Bachleitner, head of the music department at the prestigious...

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Overview

A great way to introduce children to classical music.

America’s first Children's Poet Laureate has written all-new verses to accompany the composer Camille Saint-Saëns’s The Carnival of the Animals, and the illustrator of the Harry Potter books has turned these rollicking rhymes into a picture-book fun fest. Included is a CD of the music and of Jack Prelutsky reading the verses. A note to parents and teachers by Judith Bachleitner, head of the music department at the prestigious Rudolf Steiner School in New York City, suggests ways preschoolers can act out the music—tromp like an elephant, hop like a kangaroo, glide like a swan—or, for older children, be creatively inspired by this joyful work.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 1–7—Prelutsky has created a group of poems that match the animals that Saint-Saëns portrayed in his famous classical work, composed in 1886. Read alone or in tandem with the accompanying CD, the sounds of the animals come through in the poetic form with Prelutsky's use of repetition, alliteration, and carefully placed line breaks. Listen to "Roosters and Hens" and the "peck peck peck" and "cluck cluck cluck" bring these skittery creatures to mind. The CD allows readers to listen for the same animal through Saint-Saëns's music, which brings the chickens alive in a very different way. In "Birds" children can hear the "flitter" that Prelutsky describes come alive in the tones of the flute. Having children tune in to the sounds, whether poetic or orchestral, creates a sensitivity to music in all its forms. A third dimension is added with GrandPré's vibrant art, which suggests movement through the use of collage and luminous acrylics. This is a carnival, after all, and the rich colors bring to mind the otherworldliness a carnival provides. While music teachers will want this book to complement their introduction of the sounds of the orchestra, it is also a collection children will enjoy on their own. Teachers will enjoy sharing Prelutsky's use of "just the right words" when describing each animal. It is onomatopoeia at its best.—Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA
Publishers Weekly
Along with Peter and the Wolf, Saint-Saëns’s suite has long been the go-to piece to introduce children to classical music. This delightful collection of new poems by Prelutsky serves as both helpful libretto and stand-alone treasure. The poems correlate to the animal-themed movements and neatly capture each creature’s essence. Staccato verse mirrors the hens’ frantic pace (“They scurry scurry scurry/ They fuss and fret and fret and fuss/ With feathers in a flurry”), while humor spotlights the rooster’s machismo (“He seems to think a chicken egg/ Was something he invented”). GrandPré’s (Tickety Tock) vibrant acrylic and paper collage scenes exude the same imaginative insight. The feathers of the egocentric rooster curl into a finger that points to himself as he balances an egg on his beak. Wild donkeys, who “haven’t any manners,” are crazily disruptive at a birthday party, with one inhaling the food, sporting whipped cream and sprinkles on his head. This nod to the familiar pin-the-tail party game reveals just how deeply child-savvy these two talents remain. An accompanying CD contains music performed by the Württemberg Chamber Orchestra and poems read by Prelutsky. Ages 6-12. (Aug.)
Children's Literature - Tiffany Erickson
Created as an orchestral piece, this score has been inspiring poets and writers for over one hundred years. Here, America's first Children's Poet Laureate adds his trademark whimsy to it. Fourteen poems examine different animals, including elephants, donkeys, chickens and more. While "Donkeys of the Wild" and "Personages with Long Ears" are so similar they may cause readers to wonder why pianists are lumped in with animals, in whole Prelutsky's verses strut like elephants, flutter like chickens and bounce like kangaroos throughout the work. Grand Pre's detailed artwork is worth poring over. Colorful birds are constructed from sheet music, an ill-intentioned cat stares through an aquarium and a swan fit for the stage glides through the water. The accompanying CD features each poem followed by the musical movement, with the full score played as an extra track. A note to parents and teachers gives a brief history of the musical score, as well as extension ideas that will make it easy to incorporate this book into classes and story times. This is an excellent interpretation of a classical work and will be a good addition to school and public libraries. Reviewer: Tiffany Erickson
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375964589
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 8/24/2010
  • Series: Book and CD Series
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.10 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Jack Prelutsky
Jack Prelutsky, America’s first Children’s Poet Laureate, is the king of funny verse. Two of his recent books are The Swamps of Sleethe: Poems from Beyond the Solar System and Good Sports: Rhymes about Running, Jumping, Throwing, and More.

Mary GrandPré is best known as the illustrator of the Harry Potter books. She has also illustrated The Blue Shoe by Roderick Townley and the picture book Chin Yu Min and the Ginger Cat by Jennifer Armstrong.

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