Book Review: Alligators and Music

Rating: ★★★★★

For many small children (and some adults). understanding the symphony and its components ranks right up there with memorizing the state capitals.  But Donald Elliot, in an outstanding creative endeavor, introduces young readers to each instrument with a captivating ink drawing of an alligator in 19th-Century formal dress, playing each instrument.  The final two-page spread is a panorama of the orchestra on stage, preparing to play.

Each illustration is accompanied by a self-description from the instrument’s point of view.  These essays are playful in tone but serious in descriptive detail.  For example, the Trombone’s voice declaims:

Those of us in the upper levels of excellence are obviously more aristocratic and more noble than others, and I, the noble trombone, occupy a position of grandeur and superiority that is very clearly right and proper for me.  I am capable, of course, of brilliant and glorious sound, but I can also be mournful, threatening, and profound, and I graciously accept the majestic position my nature has given me.

The clever composition and humorous tone makes the details about each instrument not only memorable but interesting.  This book is for every child who may either listen to or play classical music, and is certainly a good choice before attending a live symphony.

P.S.  Unfortunately this fine book is out of print, but there are many used copies available.  Please don’t be intimidated by the price listed at the top of this review.

Harvard Common Press0876450931

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Publication Information: Elliott, Donald. Alligators and Music. Arrowood, Clinton (Illustrator). Harvard Common Press. 1976. ISBN: 0876450931.
Categories: 5 Stars, Age 04-08, Books Children Love
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Posted on September 24, 2009


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