Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Ugly Duckling

Springtime down by the pond brings a parade of baby ducks and geese. It's a great time to take out the old classic by Hans Christian Andersen, The Ugly Duckling. I love the picture book version illustrated and adapted by Jerry Pinkney which won a Caldecott Honor award in 2000. The illustrations are rich and detailed. I think my favorites are the end papers. The beginning of the book, the first set of "endpapers" starts the tale off with the picture of a mother duck swimming with her babies right behind her. The final set of "endpapers" show the beautiful swan swimming in the pond.

Donna Jo Napoli has adapted this story into a "chapter" book, called Ugly. She has set the tale in Tasmania and made it very funny. It would be a wonderful read aloud for younger children, or an appropriate read for children in fourth and fifth grade. Tasmania is near New Zealand and Australia, just in case you are wondering why there is a kangaroo on the cover of this book. I highly recommend it!

Another book with a duckling is Jacquelyn Mitchard's Rosalie, My Rosalie: The Tale of a Duckling. Mrs. Brown read this one and thought it perfect for young people in grades 2-4. She loved the story of a nine-year-old girl yearning for a pet that she finally has when her father rescues a duckling. A story of love, attachment, and learning to let go. A book for animal lovers.
Joyce Laiosa

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Enjoying classical music

Do you feel intimidated by classical music?

Some people love it, some don't even think to listen to it. I'm of the generation that heard classical music with my cartoons. I also had a parent who loved it. She grew up with music on the radio. She rarely went to live concerts or the opera, but seemed to love it all. And so I grew up enjoying classical music on records, the radio, and at live concerts.

Voorheesville Public Library has a very extensive classical music collection, with many CDs for children. There are the recordings of Peter and the Wolf, Carnival of the Animals, and Benjamin Britten's Young Persons's Guide to the Orchestra. There is also a lovely CD called The Classical Child at the Ballet that is filled with well-loved music from the dance. For quick snippets of famous pieces (many from those cartoons I grew up with) check out Baby Dance: A Toddler's Jump on the Classics.

The newest, funniest, and even a little wacky play on classical music is Richard Perlmutter's Beethoven's Wig: Sing Along Symphonies. He has set very famous symphonies with zany stick-in-your-head lyrics. Ok, I know that Beethoven didn't wear a wig, but you will never forget Symphony #5 after hearing the "song" Beethoven's Wig. You and your children will laugh and learn/enjoy the music. There is Beethoven's Wig 2: More Sing Along Symphonies and the book and CD Beethoven's Wig. My favorite piece from all three of these is on the CD that accompanies the picture book. Included is Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata." Perlmutter has made it a song about a car stuck at a stoplight at night, with a line of traffic behind him. I kid you not!! The musical lines are so easy to hear as each "vehicle" has a new line of melody.

The best part of all these CDs are that a child can listen to the music with the funny words and then hear the music played with an orchestra. They will learn these famous and wonderful melodies and appreciate music. Give them the opportunity to listen to music and make up their own words! Joyce Laiosa