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Based on a Czech opera that was performed 55 times by children in Terezin, a Nazi concentration camp, Brundibar is an odd, urgent little tale of a brother and sister who are desperately trying to get their hands on some milk for their sick mother. They race to the village center, only to discover that they need money to buy milk. Unfortunately, all the money in town seems to be going to the nefarious hurdy-gurdy man, Brundibar. Enter three talking animals and 300 willing children (bearing balloons stating "WE DONT MIND SKIPPING SCHOOL"), and things start looking up for little Aninku and Pepicek. Retold by playwright Tony Kushner and illustrated by Caldecott Medal recipient Maurice Sendak, this operatic story is just nutty enough to become a favorite for open-minded young readers. Sendak fans will smile to see the village baker, who bears a striking resemblance to the baker in Sendak's In the Night Kitchen. His chaotic, jam-packed illustrations reveal witty little subplots to the libretto text (written all in upper case), which sharp-eyed readers will enjoy discovering. (Ages 5 to 8) --Emilie Coulter
K Up-A picture book based on a 1938 Czech opera, originally performed by the children of Terezin. A brother and sister try to get milk for their sick mother. They sing for coins in the town square, but Brundibar the organ grinder drowns out their words with his "teeth-chattery bone-rattley horrible song." Pepicek and Aninku then join voices with 300 other children and earn enough coins to fill their "soon-to-be-milkbucket." The playful language, with occasional rhyme and alliteration, is a perfect match for Sendak's spirited young heroes. The illustrations reflect varied undertones of a powerful story that works on different levels, including many references to the Holocaust. Scenes in the town show rich adults ignoring the desperate siblings, while other children also suffer from hunger. A banner matches a sign that covered the gates of Auschwitz, and several townsfolk wear yellow Stars of David. Brundibar vaguely resembles Hitler, particularly in one scene where he appears, huge and purple faced, with a clenched fist. A wordless spread showing grieving parents is poignant in itself, but tragic within the Holocaust context. Most kids won't get the literal references, but will respond directly to the images of the ominous, yet hopeful world depicted. In the end everyone sings triumphantly that "the wicked never win" and "our friends make us strong," but a final scribbled message from Brundibar promises that he'll be back. This is an ambitious picture book that succeeds both as a simple children's story and as a compelling statement against tyranny.
Steven Engelfried, Beaverton City Library, OR
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i don't know why but i expected a lot more from this book. so my lackluster review might be unfair, since it relates more to my own expectations than to the book itself...Published 5 months ago by Y. P. Cruz
An all-time children's classic by a great writer with great illustrations by a great artist.Published 11 months ago by Bob Schwartz
Excellent. Very different from other books with Maurice Sendak illustrations! Book is based on a Czech opera completed in 1938, which was performed 55 times by the children of... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Hilary Rahamim
This is a beautiful book and worth much more than I paid for it. The illustrations are beautiful and the text by Tony Kushner is great.Published on September 10, 2013 by Jana
It's an excellent book. It is well written, well illustrated and tells a very important story in allegorical form. I would recommend this book to all age groups.Published on August 14, 2013 by Helen H. Pierce
A charming telling of the Brundibar story with Maurice Sendak's wonderful illustrations. This little book is a delight to be enjoyed by children and adults alike.Published on June 13, 2013 by Barbara Sethmann
We have truly lost an author who managed to express his looks on children on paper, art and words, and he is Maurice Sendak. Read morePublished on July 7, 2012 by SkyHeart
Reason for Reading: I pick up Maurice Sendak books simply because I love his illustrations, though I prefer the non-monster stuff. Read morePublished on March 1, 2012 by Nicola Mansfield
Can be enjoyed as a children's book, but also so beautifully written & illustrated that it can be appreciated by people of all ages. Read morePublished on October 27, 2011 by Joy D. Baker