Monday, January 17, 2011

Children's Book of Music by DK Publishing

Children's Book of Music presents an introduction to music by featuring musicians, instruments, musical styles and performances. Using large photographs and descriptive text, the book takes young (and old) readers on a tour from ancient world music to today's new sounds.

This is a terrific book. The page layouts are wonderful. They feature large photographs and illustrations as well as easy to understand text. I especially love that the book doesn't centre around one part of the world or one genre of music. I also love that it's presented chronologically. The four different types of pages in the book allow the authors to include different parts of the music world. These pages are: musician profiles, music styles, performance, instrument profiles.

The musician profile pages have sidebars that feature timelines and musical influences. These are great. I love learning about the person behind the sound.

The music style pages offer details about all kinds of music. It was great to see about how the various styles developed. My favourite pages are the ones I know virtually nothing about: reggae, hip-hop and the blues. While none of these genres is my favourite, I appreciate the information on how the music evolved into these forms. It's really quite interesting.

The performance pages feature a variety of things: groups of instruments, musical gatherings, types of performances and more. I love reading about all of the operas and great conductors.

The instrument profiles pages feature stunning photographs that are well labelled. Well, most of them anyway. The pages have timelines, range of notes played as well as numerous other tidbits of information. It was nice to learn about the different parts of the instruments. One of my favourites is the profile on the sitar, tabla and tambura (page 32-33). While it doesn't feature large labelled photographs, the information is very interesting. Another favourite is definitely the Map of the Orchestra (page 52-53). I've been to the symphony many, many times, but I never get tired of seeing all of the instruments.

As I flipped through the book, I found lots of interesting facts about music and its makers. Here are some of my favourites:

  • J.S. Bach had 20 children. (page 40)
  • Wagner was Hitler's favourite musician. (page 61)
  • Frank Sinatra learned "a sneaky sideways circular breathing technique so he could hold a note for ages". (page 103).
  • Elvis's natural hair colour was sandy blonde. (page 105) (Can you imagine a blonde Elvis?)
  • Jimi Hendrix was left-handed, but played a right-handed guitar, which he held upside down. (page 113)

My favourite quote comes from Claude Debussy:

It is unnecessary for music to make people think...It would be enough if it made them listen. (page 80)

The accompanying 1 hour-long CD has 35 tracks of world music in varying styles. The book instructs the reader when to listen to each of the tracks. For example, there's an instrument profile on the didgeridoo on pages 16-17. The instructions say:
Listen to Track 2. Find two sticks to wooden spoons and join in the tapping rhythm of the clapsticks accompanying this piece of didgeridoo music.
I think that's one of the coolest parts of the book. Even though the tracks are just snippets of the original work, the CD makes a fantastic accompaniment to the book. The design of the CD sleeve is superb. Even though it's plastic and tends to be a bit sticky, the large flap makes it very easy to remove and replace the CD.

The table of contents in the book is nicely laid out into sections. The glossary is also nicely laid out with clear, concise definitions for terms used in music. Unfortunately, the book does not have an all-encompassing index. Not so handy when you want to look up trumpet, for example. It does, however, have a rather extensive "Index of Musicians".

Highly recommended. This book is for children ages 7-17. Despite being quite a bit older than that, I really enjoyed it. I bet most adults would learn something new from this book. Unless of course that adult happens to have a major in music and has studied world music history. Even then, you never know.

For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit DK Canada's website.

I'd like to thank Chris at DK Canada for this review copy.

Children's Book of Music by DK Publishing, Dorling Kindersley (DK), ©2010. ISBN 9780756667344(Hardcover), 142p.


  1. We have this out from the library now and my son (age 9) LOVES this. He reads it with my husband almost every night. I have no idea what we're going to do when it is due back ....

  2. Hey Melissa, thanks for posting this. I now have confirmation that this book rocks! Good luck with returning it to the library. Maybe you can renew it or pickup another copy somewhere.

  3. I have this on my book order for my school library-I've heard it's good but am now even more excited after reading your glowing review.

  4. This book sounds fantastic. I'm off to book depository to look for a copy. Thanks for the recommendation.

  5. Thanks Peaceful Reader and Susan. I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did. Thanks for stopping by.


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