CDs add dimension to books—June 26, 2009
Some publishers release fiction books for children with CDs included. The library has a number of these, and the CD adds another dimension to reading the story.
Some picture books contain the words to a song rather than a story. Christopher Canyon has adapted and illustrated a number of John Denver songs, such as “Grandma’s Feather Bed,” “Sunshine on My Shoulders,” “Ancient Rhymes,” and “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” Each book contains the score as well as a CD so you can sing along or play the song on the piano or guitar.
Other books that illustrate the words to a song include “God Bless America” by Irving Berlin, “Love Me Tender” by Elvis Presley, “Howdi Do” by Woody Guthrie, “Goodnight, My Angel” by Billy Joel, “Puff the Magic Dragon” by Peter Yarrow and Lenny Lipton, and “God Bless the Child” by Billie Holiday and Arthur Herzog, Jr.
Sometimes the book contains a story and the CD narrates the story. “Ellison the Elephant” by Eric Drachman and “Skippyjon Jones in the Doghouse” by Judy Schachner are each narrated by the author. The CD in “Follow the Drinking Gourd” by Bernardine Connelly is narrated by Morgan Freeman, and the one in “Li’l Dan the Drummer Boy: A Civil War Story” by Romare Bearden is narrated by Maya Angelou.
Actor John Lithgow is the author of a number of picture books for children, and each includes a CD with the author reading or singing the story. His books include “Marsupial Sue,” “I’m a Manatee,” “Micawber,” and “Mahalia Mouse Goes to College.”
Musician and author Jim Gill has created a fun story that children can sing along to. “A Soup Opera” tells the story of a man in a restaurant attempting to eat a bowl of soup. The CD contains the book being performed with orchestral accompaniment, as well as the instrumental part alone so that the reader can dramatize it himself.
Lemony Snicket has written a wonderful introduction to the different instruments in the orchestra in his book “The Composer Is Dead.” The composer is killed at the beginning of the story, and the Inspector questions all of the instruments to try to solve the crime and discover who the killer is.
Anna Harwell Celenza is a professor at Georgetown University with a Ph.D. in musicology. She has written five picture books, all illustrated by JoAnn E. Kitchel, that tell the story behind the music for different famous classical pieces. After reading about how the composer came to write the music, you can hear a recording of the piece and listen for the parts that she points out in the story.
“The Farewell Symphony” tells the story behind Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 45 and “The Heroic Symphony” gives the background for Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, also called “Eroica.” Celenza’s other titles are “Bach’s Goldberg Variations,” “Pictures at an Exhibition,” and “Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.” I especially enjoyed listening to the CD in the Gershwin book, as it contained a performance by George Gershwin himself, recorded in 1925 with the Columbia Jazz Band.
Look for a book containing a CD the next time you visit the library!