Friday, September 13, 2019

Little Creatures: An Introduction to Classical Music

The Secret Mountain does it again! Another excellent book for children has been released this month and it's as classic and beautiful as its subject matter.

Little Creatures: An Introduction to Classical Music (aff link) is a remarkable musical picture book with an accompanying CD. It features the work of 17 composers covering five centuries of music history. From Josquin des Prez to Silvestre Revueltas, your children will discover composers who composed music during the last 600 years.

What is most unique about this book, I think, is the way in which children are introduced to these musicians and their work. Visually, the focus is on little creatures; insects, arachnids, small mammals, and amphibians fill the pages of this book in unusual ways. They may sport little boots on their feet. They may be playing the violin or cello. They may be pounding away at the piano or blowing on a clarinet. It really is the craziest thing you ever saw.

But I love that it is a little avant-garde because that's how you capture a child's attention and keep them engaged. (It certainly caught my attention.)

And each illustration comes with writing that shares the title, the composition, the composer, and a short story that talks about the animal and its influence on the composer. Each composition has a sound bite on the CD. So, for example, the 8th track on the CD has a sound clip to go with the 8th story in the book. The musical snippets are about 1 to 2 minutes in length.

One of the other things I love is that the author, Ana Gerhard, was born in Mexico. She studied as a concert pianist at the Mexican National Conservatory. Little Creatures is actually the fourth book in a series of Introduction to Classical Music. The others are:

In addition, the illustrator, Mauricio Gómez Morin, is also of Mexican heritage. His art is exquisite, as you can see from the images shown. It suits each piece perfectly and conveys what Gerhard is trying to present to her young readers.

Included in the back of the book are sections with:

  • a listening guide, 
  • short bios of the 17 composers, 
  • a timeline of composers and periods, 
  • a glossary of musical terms, 
  • and the accompanying CD.

Truly, this book can be used with children of all ages thanks to the information found within. Younger children will enjoy the illustrations in the front of the book and the music. And older kids can go more in-depth by studying the composer bios in the back of the book and reading the listening guide before (or while) they listen to the CD.

This is such a gem of a book that both families and schools alike will love it.