The Story Orchestra – Carnival of the Animals – Book Review

Review – The Story Orchestra – Carnival of the Animals

‘Spectacularly amazing. Rich in so many dimensions from the music to the illustrations, from the words to the texture of the book. A sensory delight’

The Story Orchestra – Carnival of the Animals

It begins like something out of the magical world of Narnia. Where two brothers are asked to entertain themselves, maybe by tidying their room. However, a secret door opens from the bookcase and beckons them in to a magical wonderland bursting full of animals.

This is a totally stunning book from this wonderful series – The Story Orchestra. The illustrations make the music jump out of the page as the beautiful melody of each part of Carnival of the Animals is played alongside the story. I love the section at the back that explains a little about each piece, information about the composer and a glossary of terms.

Each little musical note plays a 10 second clip of music from the delightful works by Camille Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals. There is one on each stunning double page spread and then a page at the back with all the clips together.

My daughter has loved these books since she was around 2 years old and now 4 it is so lovely to see her trying to consider which instrument is playing. She adored the flutes in the Aquarium. These are such good book for bedtime, but also wonderful for beginning classical music appreciation for children. Magical!

“They dive and see schools of fish swimming past, with shimmering scales and wiggling tails.”

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A Feast for the Senses – Carnival of the Animals

Spectacularly amazing. Rich in so many dimensions from the music to the illustrations, from the words to the texture of the book. A sensory delight combining Camille Saint-Saëns music interwoven with the story from Katy Flint and brought further to life by Jessica Courtney-Tickle’s inspiring illustrations. Jessica’s style uses lots of pattern – dots, lines – to form each masterpiece. These are images to get lost in, to find more each time you look. Can you spot the little spider with the elephants? The feathers scattered by the swan? How many can you find?

After reading the book we played the full length pieces of some of the ones Floss really enjoyed. She also wanted to learn about some of the instruments. The London Philharmonia Orchestra have a great series on YouTube that give you a wonderful introduction to different instruments. We looked at a few – Floss’ favourite was the flute. They are a great series to refer to when looking at instruments. We also used some mini models of instruments too. These are so cute and Floss enjoys using them to form Orchestras and bands with her toys.

You’ll find the books below

The Story Orchestra – Carnival of the Animals – Review

  • Author – Katy Flint
  • Illustrator – Jessica Courtney-Tickle
  • Publisher – Frances Lincoln – Quarto KIds
  • ISBN – 9780711249523
  • Publication Date – 6th October 2020
  • Age Range – 3+
  • Busy Busy Learning Review – 🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈
  • Floss’s Review (4 years old) – 5/5 Fingers

The Story Orchestra Series

As you can see we’ve already got the rest of the collection and had been eagerly awaiting the arrival of this latest edition. They are perfect for sparking musical conversation and learning as well as just to appreciate as the wonderful masterpieces they are.

Exciting update for 2021. The Magic Flute is an exceptional addition to the collection and just as wonderful as the rest. Perfect if you’re looking for a gift for a book lover.

I am sure and the opportunity to play some of the compositions from the series is very welcome too and we’re really excited for this release in 2022 – it’s been released!! I spotted that Story Orchestra I Can Play is Volume 1 – does this mean more in the play your own series will follow?!

Home Learning – Music

Right now lots of us are looking at how to make learning fun at home. Books are a way that we like to ignite our daughter’s interest in topics. If it’s something she’s interested in then we find ways to bring about fun learning through play through those interests.

The Story Orchestra Books are a wonderful way to introduce musical appreciation. Just having different musical instruments available after you have shared the books together can inspire little ones to have a go at creating their own musical compositions.

If they are tuned instruments you could talk about the different pitch of notes. Get them to close their eyes and play a high and a low pitch note. Which pitch was high, which was low? Can they play a note quietly? Can they play a note loudly?

Making Music at Home

Next have fun making your own compositions. There are two ways that work very well for young children. The first is matching up objects such as these coins below to colours on your instrument. Start with just two colours and arrange them in an order. Then have a go at playing your piece. As they get more used to it you can introduce other colours.

Playing well known simple pieces can also be done in this way and a great introduction without the need to read music. Can you work out which nursery rhyme the sticks are laid out to play below? Let me know in comments. What other nursery rhymes would you suggest?

Secondly, you can next use coloured pens to write own compositions. This allows them to make more complex pieces and be able to record their ideas more permanently. Hope I’ve given you some ideas of how to explore these books a little more and to bring a little musical appreciation and composition into the lives of your children. I should add that I have zero musical ability – so all of these ideas are really easy to use and of course lots of fun. Enjoy!


Rainbow bells

If you don’t already sign up to the Usborne newsletter for their Saturday activities you really should. Each week on a Thursday you get a couple of pages of activities from some of Usborne’s brilliant books (a range of ages) as well as links to really great interactive resources too.

I had to share with you the Saturday activities that popped into my inbox recently as they included some brilliant online music resources that you can find here. We’ve had lots fun with Kandinsky music lab. There was also a download page about making different instruments at home that I’ll add below. Time to get creating!

Audio Books at Bedtime

Floss is now four and has lots of difficulty falling to sleep – I’m sure many of you can relate to this personally or for your children. We actually come from a long line of women non-sleepers in our family. Something we have done for Floss is to record us reading her favourite stories that she listens to at night.

It can take her anywhere between 1 and 3 hours to fall asleep, but she’s content and happy. Snuggled up in bed listening to stories until she drifts off into what she calls – ‘The Land of the Loveliest dreams where dreams float in and out like clouds into her mind.’ She says the stories help her to have the wonderful dreams. So if you or your children struggle to drift off to sleep then audio books might be an idea for you.

You might be interested to read about the Tonie box and Yoto Player and how we use – click the image above to go to the blog post.

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