Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Peter and the Wolf

Peter and the Wolf: based upon the original work by Sergei Prokofiev of Peter and the Wolf, retold by Chris Raschka, Atheneum, 2008 (review copy provided by book retailer)

There is always music in Chris Raschaka's work.

Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf is often the first introduction children have to symphonic music. Raschka recreates the rhythms and melody lines of the music with his text.

Recall the iconic opening of the symphony that represents Peter. It goes like this: 'de dum dum de dum de dum de dum de dum de dum de dum de dumdum de dumdum de dumdumdum.' Rashka echoes this theme with his words as Peter introduces himself

Look at me
Run around and climb around and skip around
in this lovely, large, lovely
Field of green.

Listen to the music as you read this book. The menacing wolf theme is voiced as:
Gimme, gimme, gimme
Me, meat to eat

Raschka zigs and zags the words and characters across the page as the music moves the story along. Crescendos and rhythms are depicted with upper and lower case letters, as well as, different sized fonts. The reader can hear the oboe and the bird flutter of the flute.

Some scenes are framed in a proscenium theater "made of four squares of heavy paper, cut and painted in water color then glued together to make a three-dimensional illustration." The Caldecott medalist's signature style is a good match for Prokovfiev's music.

I wish this had come with a CD but the melodies are familiar and easily found if your children do not know them already. Without knowledge of the symphony, this book is not accessible as a straight forward retelling but if you know the music, this is splendid.


Playing by the book said...

Sounds like a wonderful book but what a shame there's no CD - especially given that CDs are so often included with books today. Off to add this to my wishlist!

Susan T. said...

One of my favorite CDs of Peter and the Wolf is the one with Dame Edna Everage, who calls everyone "possums." Very fun.