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The Remarkable Farkle McBride Paperback – September 1, 2003


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Paperback: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (September 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689835418
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689835414
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 0.2 x 11.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #107,841 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Star of 3rd Rock from the Sun, actor John Lithgow is less well known as a music enthusiast, but in his comical verse story The Remarkable Farkle McBride, he has created the musical prodigy he would perhaps like to have been. Farkle is a little boy with astounding talents (he's playing violin with the orchestra by the age of 3) but little perseverance. Each year he gets bored with his instrument, takes up and masters a new one, and then gets bored with that. Of his recently beloved trombone, he says, "The racket is more than my eardrums can bear! So return it or throw it away! I don't care!" In the end, Farkle realizes that the whole orchestra is his instrument: he finds satisfaction as a conductor, and the book ends with a gatefold of him triumphantly leading all the other musicians. C.F. Payne's illustrations combine a Norman Rockwell realism with a caricaturist's sense of humor. (Ages 5 and older) --Richard Farr --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

No stranger to music (he released a CD for children titled "Singin' in the Bathtub"), actor Lithgow pens a romp of a tale about a prodigy whose quest for the perfect instrument leads him through virtually every section of the orchestra. "When Farkle McBride was a three-year-old tyke,/ All freckle-y, bony, and thin,/ He astonished his friends and his family alike/ By playing superb violin." After his debut, the easily dissatisfied diminutive genius trades in his fiddle for a flute ("He went Rootle-ee/ Tootle-ee/ Tootle-ee Too/ With all of the winds at his side"), then a trombone and subsequently percussion, all to no avail. Not until he steps in for an ill conductor does he finds his niche; a gatefold spread shows him ("satisfied!") in front of "all the instruments he ever tried." Lithgow's nimble verse with a limerick's beat sparkles as he introduces readers to the various instruments and their sounds. Payne's outrageously droll mixed media illustrations, with their blend of caricature and realism, recall Kathryn Hewitt's work in Lives of the Musicians. Although Farkle is remarkably difficult to please, his tale may well strike a chord with anyone who's ever made overtures at musicianship. Ages 4-8.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Writing a children's book was not something that I pursued. It pursued me. It started when I was asked to write a narration for a symphony for kids. I realized that it had the text for a book. From that text "The Remarkable Farkle McBride" was born. And once the first book was successful, others followed.

My sixth (!) children's book, "Marsupial Sue Presents the Runaway Pancake," was just published this fall. This is a sequel to "Marsupial Sue," one of my most popular storybook characters.This story was inspired in part by two different things: The "Runaway Pancake" song is a guaranteed show stopper whenever I sing it in one of my Paloozicals Concert for Kids , and my performing on Broadway this year in "Dirty Rotton Scoundrels" made me think that Sue might like to put on a show of her own with all of her animal friends.

I credit my parents for fostering my love of literature and books. I have fond memories of my father reading chapters aloud from great thick books like "The Jungle Book" and "A Teller of Tales".

I have carried on my father's tradition by reading aloud to my own kids when they were little. I have also started a few traditions of my own, like singing to them and playing really mediocre guitar, building castles with them out of refrigerator boxes and treasure hunts across museums. Once I even created a very elaborate paper chase across the entire campus of UCLA for my daughter Phoebe's 16th Birthday. Some of these games were inspiration for all of the Lithgow Palooza books and books with kits that have been published by both Simon and Schuster and Running Press.

Although writing is an arduous process for me, there is nothing better than seeing a child falling in love with one of my stories.

Customer Reviews

He loves this book and it's fun rhymes and bright pictures.
Davina
It is fun to read as an adult and therefore parents won't tire repeatedly reading it to their children, which they must do with favorite books.
Terri P. Tepper
This book is a wonderful tool for teaching students the instruments of the orchestra.
Dawn Danowski

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Leanne E. Bunas on September 26, 2000
Format: Hardcover
My kids (4-1/2 and 3 year-old twins) absolutely love this book! The words are interesting and complex, the rhymes are goofy, the illustrations are hysterical. I understand that there is a CD available to complement the book, which we will surely buy. We loved this book so much that we are donating a copy to our eldest's school. If you are familiar with and enjoy Garrison Keeler's delightful childrens book, "Cat, You Better Come Home," then Mr. Lithgow's book is a must buy.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Roz Levine on December 10, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Farkle McBride is definitely a remarkable little guy. He could play the violin at three. But was bored with violin playing at four. At five he discovered the flute. But at six decided it was not for him. When Farkle was seven, he took up the trombone, but then gave it up too. Next he tried percussion, but decided that was not quite right for him either. After thinking and thinking he realized that his very favorite sound was all the different instruments playing together...the orchestra. And so when the conductor gets sick, Maestro Farkle McBride steps in, finding what he really likes to do most at last. John Lithgow as written a terrific children's book, full of rhythm, rhyme and wonderful sound effects. His text is complimented by C.F. Payne's very expressive and detailed, larger than life illustrations. This is a delightful story that will charm and amuse all youngsters aged 4-8 and is a wonderful introduction to both musical instruments and the orchestra. The Remarkable Farkle McBride is a winner and a wonderful addition to all home libraries.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover
As I read some of the other responses I got the idea that some people got different things out of this book than I did.
I first bought this book for the Illustrations (which I might add are up there with Ezra Jack Keats and Van Allsburg). Then I read the book and really enjoyed it.
Someone mentioned that It gave the wrong Ideas to kids. The only ideas that I saw this book giving to kids is that it is good to be interested in things and to not be afraid to try new things until you find what you love to do.
I would really recommend this book to anyone.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By "sinoed" on September 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Although Farkle does try various instruments and then tire of them and disrespect them by destroying them, this book is worthwhile for the moral. That one should never give up and always keep trying to find one's "fit" into the world. For Farkle his passion is music and after trying many instruments at the end he finds his "fit" where he can appreciate all instruments.
This might be a bit tedious for adults, but this is a very important lesson for children to learn and to recognize that there are other options out there, just because you start learning music on a piano does not mean you can't try the trombone or if you work in pastels you can't work with watercolors.
This is a great read which is funny, fun, and silly, while still maintaining a serious message.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 31, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is a great introduction to the orchestra for kids! Lithow's rhymes are filled with wonderful sounds that mimic the noises of various instruments. I heard Mr. Lithgow on National Public Radio today and he talked about how children are sure to identify with frustrated Farkle as he tries to find his true calling--which is ultimately not to play any single instrument, but to be the conductor of the orchestra. What a terrific message about the power of collaboration! And don't miss out on the truly inspired paintings by illustrator C. F. Payne!
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33 of 41 people found the following review helpful By NK on April 29, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Out of about 100 books bought in the last 2 months for our two year old, this is the only one that we're returning and don't want to read to him. It's not that what other reviews praise about the story and pictures isn't true, it's just that the story and pictures also depict values and actions that we are not comfortable exposing to our young child although I seriously considered keeping the book for myself because I personally liked it. The main character is not a very good role model. (Because we are both parents and early childhood and elementary educators, we may be more attuned to and concerned about role models in books, which may not be as big of an issue or concern to others so this book may be fine depending on one's particular sensitivies and orientation.) Not every child is a childhood prodigy like Farkle McBride and particularly with certain issues that surround children in today's American culture and media, I am concerned about a child being exposed to a character who can master something without trying that hard or practicing or sticking to it and who easily gives up what they're doing because they get bored. Though not automatically negative, there's a bit of concern that a message is being sent suggesting that the one who is in charge (e.g. the conductor) has a better job than the others. Though amusing from an adult point of view, the book has images of instruments being broken in pieces or thrown away because the child is bored of them - not a good model for caring for personal property and respecting the investment (monetary and time) made by his parents to support his interests.Read more ›
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