I recently received a preview copy of Listen to the Birds: An Introduction to Classical Music!, the newest release from award-winning Canadian children’s publisher The Secret Mountain. I’ve reviewed a few book & CD sets from The Secret Mountain in the past, and I’ve always been impressed with the quality of the books (hardcover, lovely paper, great print quality; I’m a sucker for that).
The subject matter for this one though stole my heart, it’s designed as an introduction to classical music. I’m always eager to expose my girls to the fine arts, so as a parent how could I not love this concept?
Now, I will admit, at ages 3 and 5, my daughters are too young for this book. It’s wordy, and not quite interesting enough to keep them engaged. They enjoy it in small snippets, but there’s no way I can get them to sit still long enough to get through the entire thing. However, this doesn’t really surprise me because they are well below the suggested age range. The book says it’s made for ages 7 and up, and I’m guessing that is spot on.
The book is written by concert pianist Ana Gerhard. (The Secret Mountain has published a fascinating online interview with Ana describing how and why she developed this book. Check it our HERE.) The accompanying illustrations from award winning artist Cecillia Varela are gorgeous. The back of the book is stuffed with additional goodies; a listening guide to walk you through each piece, bios of each of the composers, a glossary of musical terms and a timeline of classical composers.
Even though they’re a bit young for the book, my daughters thoroughly enjoyed the CD. And listening to it did spark some great discussions on both birdsong and classical composition Consistent with every audio CD I’ve had from The Secret Mountain, the music quality was top notch.
The accompanying CD offers excerpts of 20 different recordings—ranging from The Goldfinch, Hens and Roosters, and The Dance of the Swans to The Cuckoo and the Nightingale, Piano Concerto N, and Dance of the Firebird—performed by world-class luminaries including the London Symphony Orchestra, the Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the Toronto Chamber Orchestra.
Overall Listen to the Birds: An Introduction to Classical Music! is an amazing resource. It mixes interesting bits of natural history with a fantastic entry level introduction to classical music. I was utterly charmed by this book, and I think it’s my favourite release from The Secret Mountain to date. This is a gorgeous book and an ideal way to expose young learners to classical music. Listen to the Birds: An Introduction to Classical Music! is available for purchase directly from The Secret Mountain website for $22.95. Or you can purchase the digital download, which includes not only the music from the CD but also printable PDF files of the illustrations and text, for $12.50. Tuesday May 28th is the official Canadian release date, and the U.S. release date is June 1st.