Books We Love: Carnival of the Animals

By Kay on Wed, Jan 28, 2009

Books We Love, Home Schooling

Carnival of the AnimalsA bit about the book…
While we had listened to a few of the movements from Camille Saint-Saens’s “Carnival of the Animals” (specifically Yo Yo Ma’s performance of “The Swan”), Kate had never really appreciated it the way I wanted her to. So, when I saw this book was at our public library, I decided to check it out and see if it would help her to fall in love with this clever composition. From the moment we read the first pages and listened to the first accompanying piece, we were hooked! Kate couldn’t wait until our next ‘school day’ when we could listen to a few more of the movements and read along in this book.

What we loved…
Barrie Carson Turner has done a fabulous job of commentating and setting the tone for this entire work of Saint-Saens. The first few pages describe why Saint-Saens wrote the piece (although I’m not positive it’s historically accurate, it’s a very cute story) and then describes an orchestra, the different instrument families, and how they are all arranged during a concert. A perfect introduction to the orchestra! The illustrations, by Sue Williams, that accompany this are a great visual for kids to ‘see’ it all, too. Turner’s descriptions of each musical movement and it’s corresponding animal are incredibly written so that you can easily hear the subtle nuances of each piece without getting bogged down in too much verbiage.

Age appropriate…
This book and accompanying CD* were a great addition to Kate’s Kindergarten year. We probably could have used it in earlier years also, but I think she was at the perfect age to really sit still and listen for the things that Turner described were going to happen in each piece. And the illustrations are great to look at while listening, too.

From the book…

This accessible commentary on Camille Saint-Saens’s classic piece allows children to follow each section of the music by listening to the accompanying CD. The whimsical illustrations, a simple text, and evocative melodies create an ideal introduction for young children to the world of classical music.

Check it out…
Carnival of the Animals was a perfect addition to our school experience and I highly recommend starting your composer study with something as easy and accessible as this book turned out to be. Now Kate is much more interested in Saint-Saens himself and is also more likely to pay attention to the nuances of any classical piece to which we listen.

*Our library’s copy of this book didn’t include the CD, but we were lucky enough to find another recording of Carnival of the Animals, narrated by Jonathan Winters, to listen to while we read.

Written by Kay Hesketh - Visit Website

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2 Comments For This Post

  1. Talitha Says:

    Aw…I love Carnival! I even did the dying swan piece for a competition when I was in high school too :). Does Kate know about the ballet that was done for the dying swan? I’ve included the youtube link so you can watch it:


    Also, there’s great book on all of the famous ballet’s called “A Child’s Introduction to Ballet.” I’ve been using it in my ballet class with my little girls and they love it! It comes with a CD too that has samplings of some of the music used in the ballets :). Just thought I’d pass it along since you said that Kate loved dance so much!


    Give your kiddies hugs and kisses for me!


  2. Kay Says:

    Thanks for the links. Can’t wait to check them out with Kate. I’m sure she will love them both!!!

Holy cow!! Great use of visuals to help explain the proposed budget cuts and their actual impact on the overall budget.

You’ll never fold tshirts the same way again!

If you ever wanted to hear someone put a mommy’s day into a song, try this one! (I guarantee you’ll laugh your butt off.)

A little on the political side, but interesting nonetheless…

Children’s Books We’ve Read