Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Carnival of the Animals (Book and CD)

The Carnival of the Animals (Book and CD)

Jack Prelutsky
Illustrator:  Mary GrandPre 
Poetry Picture Book with Audio CD
For ages 6 to 9
Random House, 2010   ISBN: 978-0375864582

In 1866, Camille Saint-Saens composed a piece of music called The Carnival of the Animals. For the piece, Saint-Saens created fourteen musical profiles of animals, using instruments to capture the essence of their natures. Some of the pieces poke fun, while others are clearly an ode to the beauty of the animals in question.

For this book, Poet Laureate Jack Prelutsky has created fifteen poems that explore the animals that Saint-Saens portrayed in his famous piece of music. He begins with an introduction, setting the scene if you will for what is to follow. Then we meet the king of beasts, the lion, who “manages to labor less / Than every lovely lioness.”

Then there are the roosters and hens who “peck peck peck and cluck cluck cluck” as they “scurry scurry scurry.” Other birds appear later in the book. In The Cuckoo we hear about how this wily bird lays its eggs in “Some smaller bird’s abode.” The swan is altogether a different creature. Elegant and “stately” the swan glides upon the water, a graceful creature that is “grand and glorious.”

With beautifully crafted poems that a rich with imagery, this is a picture book that children will greatly enjoy. To future the reader’s enjoyment of this title, the publishers have included a recording of Jack Prelutsky reading his poems. Saint-Saens’ musical animal portraits follow Jack Prelutsky’s dramatic readings.

At the back of the book readers will find more information about Saint-Saens and his Carnival of the Animals.