“We love music!” In the tradition of previous photo essays such as Faith (2009), Our Grandparents (2010) and What We Wear (2012), Ajmera and her co-authors have here assembled a collection of charming photographs showing children enjoying music in 35 countries around the world. Some play instruments, like the Venezuelan girl practicing her violin on the title page. Others clap, dance, sing along and listen. On the Cook Islands, a girl with a flower crown blows a conch shell for a festival. In Scotland, a very young bagpiper marches at the Highland Games. Novice Buddhists blow long horns in a temple in Bhutan, and young Indonesians play together in a gamelan orchestra. Some are proud performers, others rapt in concentration; their enjoyment is evident. The selection of images is wide-ranging, and the underlying message, inclusive. On each spread, well-chosen and crisply reproduced photographs that vary in size are set against solid, colored backgrounds with a single sentence of text and identifying captions. The variety of musical instruments, traditional and improvised, will gladden the hearts of teachers and those who want to encourage their children’s appreciation for music. The backmatter includes a map, glossary and suggestions for readers’ own music-making.
A medley perfectly tuned.
This latest offering from the Global Fund for Children (What We Wear, BCCB 3/12) celebrates music from around the world through vivid color photographs, a simple narrative line, and detailed captions. Musical topics include ways to use your body, (“We clap our hands and stomp our feet”), techniques (“We blow and whistle, pluck and strum”), and possible venues (at home, at the beach, at school). Of note is the diverse interpretation of music, where classically trained Venezuelan violin students are pictured a page away from Togolese kids banging rhythmically on the back of a chair; just as all-encompassing is the geographic reach of the photoessay, which touches on six continents and a variety of locales, from a U.S. community center to a West Bank camp for Palestinian refugees. Far more factual information is delivered in the photo captions than in the story itself; each description identifies what is happening in the photo and where the photo is taken. This bifurcated text makes a somewhat fragmented readaloud, but this is likely to get far more use as a browsing book, and children will love poring over the photographs of international music-makers. A two-page map of the world identifies featured countries and reiterates the equitable distribution of the book’s focus; additional supplemental materials include several pages of ideas on how to enjoy music and a glossary of terms from the text.
-The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
This lovely picture book from the Global Fund for Children shows children from around the world enjoying music. An interesting variety of instruments are on display, some of which are familiar, such as the violin, while others are indigenous to a country, such as the qeej from Laos. The children’s faces are quite expressive and filled with joy, and younger readers will enjoy poring over these appealing images. Short captions printed on each photo include the country of origin. At the end, readers will find a world map, which highlights the countries mentioned. The title also contains a glossary and a section suggesting how readers can make their own musical instruments as well as additional ways to enjoy music. A suitable purchase for most children’s libraries, this book would work well for a “beginning facts” section.
–School Library Journal
Children around the world speak different languages and come from diverse backgrounds, but most of them share an understanding of the power of music. Three authors collaborate here to present joyful, colorful, photographs of children from various countries, dancing, singing, and playing instruments. From the breathless image of a young Jewish boy in Israel blowing the shofar, to a powerful choir of American children singing gospel, beginning readers will learn that music is a universal language that “brings people together,” and exists regardless of the cultural specifics. The subtext here is a strong one: the very placement of the photos upon the page (Chinese yuequin players alongside a tyke bagpiper from Scotland) paints a succinct picture of our world as a global family. And the music doesn’t stop when the story ends; back matter includes a collection of music activities and ideas for the whole family to enjoy.
The title conveys this book’s straightforward message: music is a universal pleasure, everywhere from Canada to Timor-Leste. Proof is demonstrated by a simple yet energetic running text and large photos of children exuberantly making and enjoying music worldwide. Direct captions impart information uncondescendingly: “Playing a traditional Andean zampona. PERU.” A world map and suggestions for homemade musical instruments are included. Glos.
– The Horn Book Guide