88 INSTRUMENTS by Chris Barton


by ; illustrated by
Age Range: 5 - 8
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Finding just the right instrument to play means a lively trip to the music store to try them all out.

Of all the instruments that slide, squonk, blow, and honk, a young, white would-be musician must select just one. At first it’s a little overwhelming to be surrounded by 88 instruments. Patient parents stand by as the child experiments with an accordion, bagpipes, triangle, saxophone, harp, and drums. The variety of musical sounds is reinforced by rhymes reminiscent of Dr. Seuss: “Do I pick the squeeziest? / The wheeziest? / The easiest and breeziest?” The rhythmic, onomatopoeic text dances across exuberant watercolors with lots of movement. Characters and instruments are lightly drawn and set against a white background to great effect. Musicians will anticipate the outcome of this exuberant adventure from the title, as the child discovers the one instrument that captures the range of musical possibilities—the piano. For a book that targets the musically inclined, it’s unfortunate that design overshadows meaning in the cover art, where the title is backed by a bit of score that makes no musical sense, including two notes with ledger lines on spaces where they don't belong. The minor error can be overlooked in an otherwise delightful book.

This celebration of a child’s agency in choosing a means of artistic expression strikes just the right note. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 16th, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-553-53814-4
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2016


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