Kindergarten-Grade 5—Benjamin Britten's "Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra" has been the gold standard for introducing children to instruments since 1946. The concept has been embraced (some may say enhanced) by none other than Lemony Snicket, whose picture-book overview offers the additional layer of a murder mystery. The CD presentation features music by Nathaniel Stookey, performed by the San Francisco Symphony. The story is well paced, employing wordplay, humor, and mild suspense to build a slow crescendo that originates with the delicate strings and climaxes with percussion. The bombastic Inspector, read by Snicket on the CD, sports pinstripes, a bowler hat, and a handlebar mustache in the book. As he interrogates each section of the orchestra, the instruments describe their whereabouts on the night of the crime in characteristic voices, telling something about their actual roles while offering imagery for the illustrator. Thus, "'We were performing a waltz,' said the Violins. 'We played graceful melodies so the ladies and gentlemen could spin around and around and around until they felt dizzy and somewhat nauseous.'" Ellis's watercolors combine caricatures of the action with silhouettes of the instruments. Evidence leads to the conductor, since "wherever there's a conductor, you're sure to find a dead composer!" Musings on justice versus art point to certain acquittal. Due to the length of the musical portions, it is unlikely that children will listen and read simultaneously. It is quite likely, however, that both formats will provide entertainment and enlightenment, in whatever order they are encountered.—Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
This irreverent picture book is built somewhat along the lines of Who Killed Cock Robin?, but imbued with Snicket’s charmingly snide wit. The Composer is dead (“This is called decomposing”) and the Inspector is called in to uncover the murderer—or murderers. The sections of the orchestra are personified as the Inspector interrogates the Violins and Woodwinds and Trumpets and even the Conductor. Each has an alibi, though by the end it becomes clear that they are all complicit in the butchering of countless dead composers. The artwork alternates between silhouettes of instruments, the indignant Inspector accusingly pointing his finger, and chaotic, playful interpretations of waltzes and marches as notes and ligatures swirl about. An accompanying CD features a comically dramatic reading by Snicket set against a mishmash of music that integrates motifs from various classical sources. The whole slightly macabre package is great fun, and while many youngsters will miss the clever wordplay and wry twist at the end, this still winds up being a fairly good overview of each orchestral section’s role in bringing music to life. Or death. Grades K-3. --Ian Chipman --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.See all Editorial Reviews
When I saw my 11 year old daughter, a big Lemony Snicket fan, picked this book at the library, I was dissapointed thinking "Oh great...Really?A picture book? Read morePublished 2 months ago by Ofuku
This is my all time favorite book. I have purchased this book many times and have used then as thank you gifts. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
This book is great for the young and old. The humor is great and the story line unusual. It has a good smattering of good music to listen to. Don't read the book, listen to the CD!Published 4 months ago by N.E.F.
Bought this as a back-up copy, while the book is as described, there was no CD included. Thankfully the copy I ordered from another seller did have the CD, but I would have been... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Hannah Sharron
As a parent I love reading this book. My little one is only an infant, but he loves to listen to the cd. It calms him.Published 5 months ago by Haley D. Groves
In the Lemony Snicket style, a great introduction to the orchestra for youngsters.Published 8 months ago by C Schmanski
I loved the CD and the book both where very funny I enjoyed them very much. The music was also very great I really enjoyed it.Published 8 months ago by Melissa F Levine
This is a very clever book written in the style of Lemony Snicket's (Daniel Handler) other books. This book does not add to or rely on the longer Boudelaire series (Unfortunate... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Morgan Moore