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Comment: This item is gently used in good or better condition. If it is a textbook it may not have supplements. It may have some moderate wear and possibly include previous owner's name, some markings and/or is a former library book. We ship within 1 business day and offer no hassle returns. Big Hearted Books shares its profits with schools, churches and non-profit groups throughout New England. Thank you for your support!
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Carnival of the Animals Hardcover – September 1, 2004

4.2 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this story within a ballet within an orchestral suite, Lithgow (The Remarkable Farkle McBride) adapts to picture-book form a rhyming narration of composer Camille Saint-Saëns's 1886 composition Carnival of the Animals, which the author originated for the New York City Ballet last year (a music recording along with the author's ebullient narration accompanies the book). The resulting read-aloud takes a flight of fancy as well as a few leaps of logic. During a field trip to a natural history museum, Oliver Pendleton Percy the Third sneaks away from his class and hides among the taxidermic beasts in an exhibit labeled "under repairs." After closing, as Oliver sleeps with the fishes—and antelopes, bears and beavers—the boy dreams that the various people in his life take on the guise of the museum animals. His classmates morph into a pack of rule-breaking hyenas, his teacher a lion and his mother a tearful cuckoo searching for her chick. A kindly night watchman eventually facilitates Oliver's safe return home. Lithgow gleefully tackles the challenge of inventing a child-friendly story around the music's imagery. His penchant for employing often sophisticated and fun-to-pronounce words remains intact. However, as a stand-alone text, the dreamlike quality of the poem makes for some disjointed, stream-of-consciousness vignettes that may leave some readers scratching their heads. In addition, the author occasionally bends the story line to fit the rhyme scheme, with mixed success. Kulikov's (Morris the Artist) artwork acts as the glue here. He gamely stays in step, providing a fanciful plumed and furry menagerie of wild animal-human hybrids. His sophisticated yet playful treatment of size and perspective—along with copious humorous details—will have readers poring over many of the compositions. Ages 5-10.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 2–This absurdist fantasy at first explodes off the page like a well-shaken bottle of champagne, but fizzles into a sappy mess by the end. Drawing on Camille Saint-Saëns's suite, Lithgow has concocted a story in which young Oliver, left behind in the Natural History Museum after a class trip, is visited by dreams of his classmates, teachers, and extended family members transformed into the animals they most closely resemble. Lithgow's stanzas, at their best, recall the giddy hilarity of Edward Lear, as when he describes "The ferrets and badgers and weasels and rats/Were sticky-faced toddlers and snotty-nosed brats,/A species that always drove Oliver bats:/The Greater New York younger sibling." The moments of humor, slapstick, and charm clash with the darker ones–Oliver's terrifyingly toothy music teacher looming over him at the piano, the image of the bird-woman weeping over her empty nest, for example–without ever jelling into something coherent: a story. It's a shame that the text doesn't live up to Kulikov's splendidly rich and vibrant watercolor-and-gouache illustrations, which are uniformly excellent. At the book's end, of course, Oliver is delivered safely into the arms of his relieved parents, but due to the lack of plot, it's a strangely unsatisfying conclusion. Lithgow's narration, included on a CD at the back of the book, is as zany and inspired as always.–Sophie R. Brookover, Camden County Library, Voorhees, NJ
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 - 10 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (September 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689867212
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689867217
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 0.4 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #815,357 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
When looking for presents for our three-year old neighbour, I found this book and was immediately enthralled. The illustrations are gorgeous and the rhymes excellent.

Some of the words are a bit too advanced for a three-year old, but when I read it to her the first time, she asked what they meant, so we got to talk about them, which is really good.

I believe the book will age well, in that the story, illustrations, and vocabulary are complex enough so in a couple of years it won't be a "baby book", but it also had plenty to keep a three-year old entertained. In fact, she was enthralled.

I purchased the book before I realised it was written by THAT John Lithgow, and am really impressed at how multi-talented he is. I will definitely buy more of his books for presents and, as my own young baby gets a little older, really enjoy reading them with her.

Well done!
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Format: Hardcover
I was a bit skeptical of this book when it was given to my 5-year old at Christmas, but I have to say it won me over. My son really loves it too, and we don't always have the same taste for books, so it's nice that we both enjoy this together. The rhymes are ingenious and the music is lovely. The vocabulary is advanced, but that's part of what makes this book so charming.
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Format: Hardcover
I've always loved this music, especially to help children appreciate classical music. But what a great idea to combine it with clever rhyme and whimsical art! My 6 year-old daughter received it for Christmas and enjoys listening to the CD and following along with the book at bedtime.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am an elementary music teacher and this book is excellent for a number of reasons. However my only problem, and it is a problem in elementary school when children in grade 1 or 2 want to read the book, is one word. It is another name for donkey and starts with jack. It appears three times and I have taped over the word and put the word donkey, which works well except for one sentence that is suppose to rhyme. The pictures, prose, and included CD are all great and work well in the classroom as well as the home.
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Format: Hardcover
I used this with my kindergarten music class, and they were absolutely enthralled. Even kids who normally weren't on their best behavior were attentive and involved. We laughed hysterically together at the pictures, they were always finding something on the page to talk about. In addition, John Lithgow is a terrific storyteller who really makes the story come alive. During the musical passages woven through the story, I would stop and prompt the children to identify the instruments in the background and have them discuss ways each shows the character - eg. the how the elephant is shown with a slow, heavy tempo with low pitch; or how the wooden bars of the xylophone resonate to sound like the bones of the fossils. I highly recommend this book and cd.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
John Lithgow's entertaining "translation" of music into literature is fantastic. This was purchased as a gift for two little great granddaughter who both enjoy the story and the music. How wonderful to be able to expose them to really good music outside of iPos standards! It will be hard to find something this entertaining to give them for Christmas.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I use this in my music class! The kids love the story and the beautiful illustrations. But I was surprised when I bought it, the author uses the term "ass" for a donkey, so it might not be appropriate at all schools.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Another book in the collection of John Lithgow's childrens' books.
Lovely and witty prose.
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