Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Musical Picture Books

Do Your Ears Hang Low? Sung by the Topp Twins, illus. Jenny Cooper, Scholastic NZ

I don’t own a copy of The Wonky Donkey (shock, horror!) so this was my first introduction to a musical picture book ie. in song format, with a CD enclosed. My initial realisation was that this is a different experience to reading a picture book with a small child. With an ordinary book you grab one from the pile, collar a willing preschooler, and sit down to read. But I found I didn’t know what to do with a musical picture book. Read it aloud? Sing it aloud? Set up the equipment to play the CD before starting? Sing along with the CD? Or just turn the pages as the Topp Twins sing? I guess everyone will have to work out their own way of tackling this. I have to admit I haven’t got the hang of it yet. But I am very old-fashioned...

Putting the methodology aside, I hasten to say that the words of the song are delightful, and don’t need to be sung to be appreciated. The illustrations are sheer delight – Jenny Cooper’s bemused long-eared animals are laugh-aloud funny. I did listen to the CD – it’s pretty short, and has been extended with some guitar playing at the end (I would have preferred to hear the song again). BTW, there are two pages at the end of the book providing interesting snippets of information about ears (all you ever wanted to know...).

ISBN 978 1 77543 104 6 $26 Pb

If You’re a Kiwi And You Know It! Sung by Pio Terei, Maori lyrics by Kotuku Tibble, illus. Stevie Mahardhika, Scholastic NZ

Another musical picture book with a CD, this is a longer and much more repetitive song that the one I reviewed above. It covers kiwi (dig for worms), spider (scuttle about), tui (sing a song), dolphin (dive and play), pukeko (strut around), eel (slither away), fantail (flit about), praying mantis (catch a fly), horse (kick your hooves), seal (flap your flippers), penguin (waddle around) and tuatara (stay very still). The English version is followed by the Maori one. I imagine that children who have already heard the original version at school or in kindergarten will be happy to perform the actions while the song is played - with a bit of guidance from the teacher. Parents at home might also prefer to play the CD (because of its repetitive format) and encourage their children to do hand actions. The illustrations are big and bright and colourful, with extremely cheerful animals depicted. I did find all those wildly grinning faces a bit much, but children will probably find them reassuring.

ISBN 978 1 77543 107 7 $21 Pb
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

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