Kirkus Reviews QR Code
MANUELO THE PLAYING MANTIS by Don Freeman

MANUELO THE PLAYING MANTIS

By Don Freeman (Author) , Don Freeman (Illustrator)

Age Range: 3 - 8

Pub Date: March 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-670-03684-6
Publisher: Viking

This musically themed offering is from the estate of the late Freeman, with a few watercolor illustrations completed by another artist using Freeman’s sketches. Manuelo is an insect on a mission: he loves outdoor orchestra concerts and longs to make music of his own like the crickets and grasshoppers. He attempts to create various instruments out of materials at hand, including a flute, a trumpet, and a harp. Manuelo sticks with his quest, and finally, with a spider’s assistance in creating the strings, he successfully builds a cello from a walnut shell and a twig, with a bow made from a bluebird’s feather. His story is lyrically told in the fluid, practiced prose of a professional storyteller, and if Manuelo is not quite as appealing a character as Corduroy, he nonetheless has quite a bit of personality for an insect, revealed in both text and illustrations. Stories about string instruments are hard to find (just like the praying mantis)—and Manuelo deserves a chance to be heard. (Picture book. 3-8)