Because (Mo Willems)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Because, written by Mo Willems and illustrated by Amber Ren, a lovely ode to the community of people that are behind a single work of art.

It begins with Beethoven: “Because a man named Ludwig wrote beautiful music, a man named Franz was inspired to create his own.” Each page follows in this way, looking at how Franz’s music inspired an orchestra to form to perform his music; musicians to practice, craftsmen to prepare the music hall, artists to design the posters, and patrons to buy tickets. And because one little girl’s uncle came down with a cold, she got her aunt’s spare ticket, and was there to hear Franz’s music – and was transformed, inspired to create her own art and share it with the next young artist.

Beautiful. At once a celebration of the importance of art and the army of people that band together to create it, Willems’s cause-and-effect story structure puts a spotlight on both splendidly while creating a compelling and exciting narrative. I especially loved the focus on how art is most often a community effort, with people working together both onstage and off to make something beautiful for their audience; I’ve only seen it once before in a picture book, and it made me smile to see it here. After all, art is best when it’s shared, and able to inspire the next great artist to take up the torch. Ren’s illustrations are lovely, creating a rich and diverse cast of characters and some wonderfully heartwarming visuals (such as when a flowing stanza of musical notes literally sweeps the young protagonist off her feet and carries her along). The length is great, and JJ and I adored it. Baby Bookworm approved!

The Story Orchestra: Four Seasons In One Day (Jessica Courtney-Tickle)

Hello friends! Our book today is The Story Orchestra: Four Seasons In One Day by Jessica Courtney-Tickle, and featuring the music (yes, music!) of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, telling the story of a little girl experiencing the change of the seasons.

When Isabelle and her puppy Pickle set out in the morning, spring has sprung. Birds are in the air, flowers are in bloom, and her little apple tree is blossoming. As the day goes on, spring brightens and fades into summer, then a brisk summer storm leads the way into the harvest colors of fall. By the time she makes her way home, snowy winter has set in and covered the world in gleaming ice. And as the seasons have passed, they’ll begin again, accompanied by the beautiful music they inspire.

This was a fantastic interactive book that combined lessons about the seasons, a lovely sample of classical music, and some drop-dead gorgeous illustrations to create a rich educational experience. Each page has a “button” that plays an excerpt from a different movement of The Four Seasons to accompany the season shown on the page, detailed in vibrant and intricate art filled with nature, people and creatures that create tons of visual interest for little ones. It also includes a brief bio of Vivaldi and glossary of classical music terms in the back. While the story is paced a bit slowly for very little bookworms, the art is so colorful and finely detailed that JJ was more than happy to examine each page even after I had finished the paragraph. This is a wonderful book that weaves together a lot of topics and learning opportunities, and we absolutely loved it! Definitely Baby Bookworm approved!