Friday, August 19, 2011

Poetry Friday - A review of The Carnival of the Animals

When I was young, one of my favorite pieces of music was The Carnival of Animals by Camille Saint-Saens. I learned how to play the swan piece on my flute, and was thrilled when my school orchestra (with me in it) performed the entire piece for a concert. Admittedly the orchestra wasn't that good, but I felt fantastic playing a piece of music I had loved for so long.

For today's poetry title I have reviewed a book written by Jack Prelutsky. He has written fifteen poems to reflect the musical pictures that Saint-Saens created.for The Carnival of Animals. 

Jack Prelutsky
Illustrated by Mary GrandPre
Poetry Picture book and Audio CD
For ages 6 to 9
Random House, 2010, 978-0-375-86458-2
In 1866, Camille Saint-Saens composed a piece of music called The Carnival of the Animals. For the piece, Saint-Saens created fourteen musical profiles of animals, using instruments to capture the essence of their natures. Some of the pieces poke fun, while others are clearly an ode to the beauty of the animals in question.
   For this book, Poet Laureate Jack Prelutsky has created fifteen poems that explore the animals that Saint-Saens portrayed in his famous piece of music. He begins with an introduction, setting the scene if you will for what is to follow. Then we meet the king of beasts, the lion, who “manages to labor less / Than every lovely lioness.”
   Then there are the roosters and hens who “peck peck peck and cluck cluck cluck” as they “scurry scurry scurry.” Other birds appear later in the book. In The Cuckoo we hear about how this wily bird lays its eggs in “Some smaller bird’s abode.” The swan is altogether a different creature. Elegant and “stately” the swan glides upon the water, a graceful creature that is “grand and glorious.”
   With beautifully crafted poems that a rich with imagery, this is a picture book that children will greatly enjoy. To future the reader’s enjoyment of this title, the publishers have included a recording of Jack Prelutsky reading his poems. Saint-Saens’ musical animal portraits follow Jack Prelutsky’s dramatic readings.
   At the back of the book readers will find more information about Saint-Saens and his Carnival of the Animals.

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