Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Long Live Music!

Long Live Music!

Les Chat Peles
Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Creative Editions, 1996   ISBN: 0152013105

Silence the Giant has destroyed Pippo the dog’s musical instruments, and it looks as if he is determined to destroy all music. Desperate to get away from the ferocious giant, Pippo and his human friend Phil decide to climb into a big book that is about music. Perhaps on its pages Pippo will find out how to play music again, and perhaps he will also figure out how to solve the giant problem.

As they move from page to page (pursued by Silence the Giant) Pippo and Phil find out all about how prehistoric people used sticks, gourds, shells and other found objects to make sounds and to beat out a rhythm. Early human civilizations that rose in China, Egypt, and other countries “believed that music had magical powers.”

As the influence of the ancient civilizations spread, so too did their use of musical instruments. Later, in the Middle Ages, travelling musicians brought music and song to communities, providing the people with entertainment. Then in the early 1600’s, public theatres opened in Venice, and the first operas were performed. In these performances, the voice was predominant, but over time small ensembles of musicians became bigger, and orchestras began performing music without vocal parts. Music became something that everyone and anyone could enjoy either as a musician or as a listener.

As Pippo and Phil flee from Silence the Giant, going from page to page in the book, it becomes clear that they are going to have to do something drastic if they want to be able to enjoy the music they both love.

Readers are going to enjoy exploring this very unusual picture book. The true story of music is told alongside the story of Silence the Giant, Pippo and Phil, and as the pages turn, the two stories get more and more tangled up together. Children will be delighted when they see how Pippo and Phil solve their problem, and when they discover what happens to Silence the Giant. What a wonderful way to teach young people about the history of music!