Simply Fantastic - An Introduction to Classical Music is a beautiful book and CD that reveals the magic of music to children. The thematically unified collection of compositions and illustrations are inspired by a host of otherworldly beings including elves, fairies, wizards, and gnomes that sparked the creativity of Wagner, Mozart, Mendelssohn, and others.
Author Ana Gerhard is a Mexico-based concert pianist, classical radio host, and music education advocate whose first collection for children, Listen To The Birds - An Introduction To Classical Music employed a similar approach to children's music education and enjoyment (both published by The Secret Mountain, the amazing Canadian press devoted to wonderful children's content in the book/CD format). Both books are gorgeous, accessible, and unpretentious, tapping into a child's curiosity and sense of adventure.
In Simply Fantastic, twenty compositions spanning Renaissance through 20th century are compiled, including Puck's Dance by Debussy, Grieg's In The Hall of the Mountain King, and Tchaikovsky's The Witch Baba Yaga. Each is the focus of a two-page spread featuring one of Claudia Legnazzi's stunning illustrations, a brief explanation of the magical beings invoked in the piece, and the composition's background and narrative. The book includes a listening guide, short biographies of each composer, a glossary of musical terms, and a timeline of composers and periods.
Gerhard's books are thoughtfully crafted, incredibly written, compelling works that get kids excited about classical music.