A Little Book Of The Orchestra – The Violin by Mary Auld and Elisa Paganelli

The Blurb On The Back:

Luli loves playing the violin in an orchestra.  She is so excited when she hears that her orchestra will play outdoors in Tragalgar Square.  It’s a midsummer concert for everyone!

A LITTLE BOOK OF THE ORCHESTRA reveals the world of a large orchestra in a story of one of its musicians and their instrument.  In this book, find out about the violin and what it is like to learn and play.  As you read, you can listen to the amazing music the violin creates both on its own and within the orchestra.

A LITTLE BOOK OF THE ORCHESTRA – THE VIOLIN was released in the United Kingdom on 9th March 2023.  Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

You can order A LITTLE BOOK OF THE ORCHESTRA – THE VIOLIN by Mary Auld and Elisa Paranelli from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

<lj-cut text=”The Review (Cut For Spoilers):”>

Mary Auld (a pen name for Rachel Cooke) and Elisa Paganelli’s illustrated book for readers aged 7+ (produced with the London Symphony Orchestra) intends to get children interested in classical music and playing instruments.  Told as a story, there’s a lot of information here but while I liked the audio download accompaniment, I don’t think the format gives itself to casual reading and it’s better used in a formal teaching setting.

I’d previously read A LITTLE BOOK OF THE ORCHESTRA – THE CLARINET and found it really difficult to work out what I thought about it because although there were a lot of positives, I just wasn’t convinced that it was successful on its own terms.  I am sorry to say that I have the same issues with this book.  

As with THE CLARINET, this has been specifically put together to try and get young readers interested in classical music and playing a musical instrument and a lot of thought has gone into it.  There’s an introduction by both Sir Simon Rattle (the famous conductor and Music Director of the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO)) and Harriet Rayfield (the First Violin of the LSO) and the LSO has made available suggestions of music that readers can listen to at the same time as they read the book, with special boxes within the text pointing you to a piece to download and listen to.  

The book again uses a story format to get the main points across – in this case Lilu is a violinist who plays at clarinetist Ed’s wedding and a few days later has to play a concert at Trafalgar Square with the rest of the orchestra.  It’s a thin story but there is a lot of information within the text – both what the violin is, how you play it, how violins are used in orchestras and how acoustics work in orchestras and concerts.  I enjoyed Paganelli’s illustrations although they are quite literal in terms of picking out elements of the text and depicting them and the focus is more on adults than on children.  The book ends with a depiction of what an orchestra looks like and who sits where and what types of instrument sit together plus there’s a description of the music accompaniments to the book and what to listen for and a glossary of the different terms used within the text.

So now we come to the musical download section of the book.  I still think that it’s a good way of illustrating the points made in the text and it helps to bring it all to life while making the reader think about what the music and the instrument is doing and capable of doing.  On the other hand, I also still think that it stops the book from standing on its own plus the download format of the music means that this book is better used in a formal teaching setting rather than something that you can slide over to a young reader to encourage them to check out a new subject.

Ultimately, for all my reservations if you have a young reader who is showing an interest in music or if you are keen to share your own love of music with them, then this book is a good place to start.  

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