Format: Board Book
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review): 2
Genre: Board Book
What did you like about the book? This charmingly illustrated book (translated from the French) depicts a group of young bird friends discovering the joys of making music together with household items. It starts with one small owl-like creature banging on a saucepan with wooden spoons. A long-beaked, long-legged yellow friend joins in with cymbals, tish-tish-tish. Before long, three more young birds join in, playing colander, pie plate, and ladle. The music rings out in rhythmic onomatopoeia that will be fun for toddlers and their grown-ups to sing out together. Viewing this may inspire the littles to empty out the pot cupboard and experiment with sounds.
Anything you didn’t like about it? Not long after the young friends get the band together, a grown up owl enters the scene, asking “What ARE you doing?” The disapproving tone is clear. On the next page, the big bird is confiscating all the pots and pans, and the small birds look scolded and dejected. Big bird returns with a sweet dessert and the littles rejoice. Young readers may interpret that the musical experimentation was a bad thing – Better to stop being curious and active and eat something instead. The mischievous conclusion, in which the young birds paint the inside walls of the house with carefully canned fruit preserves from the pantry, seems to equate innocent musical play with deliberate destruction of the parents’ hard work putting up food. It’s such an odd and jarring message. I gave this book to several other people to read (without sharing my thoughts) to see if their interpretation would be similar. It was. It may be that Stehr was contrasting the joy of the music-makers with the displeasure of those within hearing range, but that message, presented in this way, is not age-appropriate for the board book crowd.
To whom would you recommend this book? I would not recommend this book.
Who should buy this book? Libraries with unlimited budgets.
Where would you shelve it ? Board Books
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No.
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Robin Shtulman, Athol Public Library, Athol, MA
Date of review: 16 January 2018