Music plays a large role in the life of our family and I was very excited to come across today’s book: Maximus Musicus visits the Orchestra by Hallfrídur Ólafsdóttir and Pórarinn Már Baldursson, translated from Icelandic by Dadi Kolbeinsson (Music Word Media).
Dominic: I liked the bit when Maxi tries to use his whisker to make a sound. And it tells you quite a few facts at the back. My favourite bit is that he thinks he’s riding a horse but actually he’s riding a beater. The CD makes it even better because the narrator does different voices for the characters and I like the music.
Emma: My favourite bit is where Maximus falls off the curtain and lands in the tuba. I like singing the song.
This book was written by the principal flautist of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. In the story, Maximus Musicus takes shelter from the snow and cold in a “sky-high building”, snuggling down to sleep, only to be awoken by an orchestra rehearsing for a performance of Ravel’s Bolero. Ólafsdóttir leads us round the orchestra, visiting each section in turn, introducing us to the sounds of the different instruments. The illustrations help the reader to visualise the different instruments and we enjoyed following Maximus Musicus on his adventure.
Where this book really comes into its own, however, is with the accompanying CD. The story really comes to life. Not only can you now read about the sounds Maxi encounters on his journey, but you can hear the different voices of the orchestra, with the narrator talking to us over the backdrop of Ravel’s masterpiece, Bolero. As well as pieces by Ravel, Copland, and Icelandic composer Kaldalóns, the CD also includes a track called Maxi’s song, with the music and words included at the back of the book. This is a VERY catchy little song and Emma hasn’t stopped singing it since we heard it!
My only word of advice would be that the CD recording is quite long (Bolero is quite a lengthy piece!) and for those with a shorter attention span, it may be too much. We listened to it in the car, which was great, but I’m not sure Emma would have sat still long enough otherwise.
Overall though, a great introduction to the orchestra!