Listen to the Birds - An Introduction to Classical Music is an ambitious book and classical music compilation that brings together music, art, and nature to introduce kids to classical music inspired by bird songs. Ana Gerhard made the musical selections and wrote explanatory notes for compositions spanning the Renaissance to the twentieth century. There are the heavy hitters like Mozart, Handel, and Vivaldi alongside surprising selections from Messiaen, Janequin, and Rautavaara.
Cecilia Varela's illustrations beautifully depict each of the composers and the birds to which they pay homage. The book is organized to correspond to the CD, moving through each track with information about the birds and the compositions themselves. In the section of the book devoted to The Swan from Camille Saint-Saëns' "The Carnival of the Animals," young readers (and their parents) learn that the swan belongs to the duck family, the composition is written for cello and pianos, and in 1905 it inspired a Russian ballet. The back of the book features brief composer biographies that are accessible to grade-school readers.
It's a lovely book and a lively trip through nature and the classical canon that will engage readers and listeners of all ages. Preview Listen to the Birds - An Introduction to Classical Music at The Secret Mountain, or pre-order a copy.
(Image: The Secret Mountain)