Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyIt's just a few minutes before showtime and the nattily dressed penguin conductor frets over the empty seats before him. One by one the animal orchestra members appear with silly excuses and informative remarks about their instruments. The predominant theme of the story is that Crash the monkey is missing. Predictably he surfaces toward the very end of the book, clangs his cymbals together and is the hit of the show. The thin plot line leading to the practically nonexistent show is drawn out to 41 pages, presumably to accommodate a full range of instruments. In addition to the distraction of complicated musical notations that embellish occasional pages, the instruments have a photographic quality that is incongruous with the rest of the illustrations. The subject matter would imply that a good time was had by all, but real fun is noticeably absent. In trying too hard to instruct, the book misses an opportunity to entertain. Ages 5-8. (Feb.)
School Library Journal - School Library JournalPreS-Gr 2-- Concert time is fast approaching, but maestro penguin's musicians have yet to arrive. One by one the animal instrumentalists appear, each with an excuse meant to be amusing, to be met by the conductor's continued plea, ``Where is Crash?'' Finally the concert begins, and Crash, a monkey, appears in the nick of time (from the bell of the tuba) to crash the cymbals and be the star of the show. Tidbits of musical instruction are worked into the silliness. The instruments arrive in family groupings, with a three- or four-bar sample of music. Small labels in some of the illustrations point out the peg at the base of the cello or the tuning pedals of the harp. Van Kampen's illustrations are large, colorful, and busy, and the musical notation and the labels worked into the layout compound the busyness. The art work is pleasant enough, but it can't compensate for the limp text. For real orchestral whimsy, stick to Kuskin's The Philharmonic Gets Dressed (Harper, 1982); for animal musicality try Bill Staines' All God's Critters Got a Place in the Choir (Dutton, 1989). Mark Rubin and Alan Daniel's The Orchestra (Salem House, 1986) is a better introduction to instruments. --Elaine Fort Weischedel, Turner Free Library, Randolph, MA
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