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Book reviews from 4-7 years: Music and dance

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Read reviews of the latest music and dance books that look set to top the charts.

The Two-By-Two Band

The Two-By-Two Band by David Flavell and Alison Bartlett (OUP, ISBN 9780192727541)

Having just completed a geography-themed topic based around the story of Noah’s Ark, this book was a popular choice for the children in my Yellow Group. To keep the animals’ minds off their rumbling tummies, Mr Noah and his animals form a band. Their disorganised playing sounds dreadful – until a resourceful dove delivers a baton, in the shape of an olive branch…

The children were captivated by the illustrations: Cassidy liked the triangle-playing elephants, William liked the piano-playing sloth, and Matthew liked the newts with the flutes. Alfie found the idea of Noah conducting the animals particularly amusing.

Children can predict the outcome of this book, while experiencing a variety of familiar and less well-known instruments. The more astute may also be able to guess why the dodo ends up playing the long-forgotten sackbuts.


Here Comes Frankie!

Here Comes Frankie! by Tim Hopgood (Macmillan, ISBN 9780230706460)

Frankie lives in a quiet house in a quiet street. The dog doesn’t bark, the birds have forgotten how to chirp, and even the clock has lost its tick-tock. No longer able to live in a world of silence, Frankie announces that he wishes to learn to play the trumpet – with amazing and unexpected results.

Red Group immediately empathised with Frankie and his need to make some noise! The children were particularly drawn to the illustrations: Ellis liked the colourful and interesting drawings, while Maizy thought the shimmering pages were exciting.

Through imaginative collage we are introduced to ‘synaesthesia’ – the idea that, for some, music has colour, shape and smell. Jamie, Laura and Eden all found the idea of smells and colours coming out of Frankie’s trumpet amusing. Millie liked the idea that Frankie had reached his goal of learning to play an instrument and making some noise!


Daddy Does the Cha Cha Cha!

Daddy Does the Cha Cha Cha! by David Bedford and Bridget Strevens-Marzo (Little Hare, ISBN 9781921049903)

This book is bursting with onomatopoeic opportunities for both teacher and children alike. Its lively and repetitive text invites the children to join in with the reading, and the engaging illustrations will particularly appeal to younger children. The story explores the somewhat embarrassing issue of ‘Dad dancing’ at parties and what happens when a group of overenthusiastic fathers mind the children while the mums go off for a well-earned rest.

The children in my Purple Group knew instantly they would enjoy this book – as Megan put it simply, ‘I like elephants and I like dancing!’ They all found the book funny; William particularly liked the mess the uncoordinated dancing dads had made in the house. There was an air of tension when the mums appeared in the distance, and lots of discussion about what they would say when they got back to the house!


Cat-a-wall

Cat-a-wall by Sally Grindley (A&C Black, ISBN 9781408100882)

This longer, chapter book is an entertaining read for the whole class at storytime, or for more confident readers to tackle alone. Its theme of a wannabe singer seeking fame and fortune is very topical. The twist in this tale is that the main character is a cat who, in his owner’s opinion, is tone deaf. Josh thought Scruff the cat was cool, and Matthew and Maddison thought his singing, or at least my version of it, was funny. All the children felt reading a chapter book was grown up.

Scruff the cat eventually finds his heart’s desire when he meets the ‘fluffiest, prettiest cat in the world’ at the feline version of the X Factor. Does he win her heart and the show? You’ll have to read it yourself to find out…


It's a George Thing!

It’s a George Thing! by David Bedford and Russell Julian (Egmont, ISBN 9781405228053)

This book, which celebrates individualism and friendship, was a hit with Green Group. George the Zebra isn’t sporty like his friend Peachy the Gorilla, or strong like his weightlifting friend Moon the Lion. Instead, George prefers to do his own thing, which is to accompany Priscilla the Giraffe’s singing with wild, uninhibited dancing.

The children were able to relate to the fact that we all have our own strengths and weaknesses. Sam found the story funny and enjoyed the animals dancing together, while Ethan was able to empathise with George and his friends. The illustrations are full of energy and movement, and capture George’s emotional struggle as he builds up the confidence to perform his unique style of dancing in front of the other animals. The class also really enjoyed doing the ‘George thing’, using the instructions at the back of the book.


The Sounds Around Town

The Sounds Around Town by Maria Carluccio (Barefoot Books, ISBN 9781905236275)

The Sounds Around Town proved to be an excellent choice to support my class’ science work. Blue Group immediately made the connection between the book and their recent learning about sound and hearing. Just like the child in the story, we have been identifying the everyday sounds that can be heard as we journey through the day. Jac and Cyan particularly enjoyed this aspect of the story, joining in enthusiastically with the different sounds on each page. Ryan and Ellie liked the colourful pictures with lots of different things to spot.

This colourful book ticks lots of boxes; the story is written in rhyme, and the detailed collage illustrations contain lots of interesting things to identify. There are labels to read, greetings in different languages to repeat, and a central character to spot on each page. The book is even made from ‘ancient forest-friendly paper’!

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