A snake meandering into “the wrong pit” leads readers through this appealing introduction to an orchestra and its instruments—brass, wind instruments, strings and percussion.
Children in simple uniforms perform in a sunken outdoor amphitheater framed by trees. The snake’s narration channels a child’s guilelessness, but there are sly bits, too. Coiling attentively before a cross-legged musician on a round rug, the snake quips, “That oboe is rather charming.” After presenting the violin, viola and cello in their respectively graduating sizes, the snake confesses, “I’m quite attached to the bass.” A page turn reveals a dramatic central spread: The sheepish narrator has swallowed the bass fiddle whole! Some performers quail at the snake’s presence, of course; a benign animal-control guy conducts a brief, fruitless search. Visual and textual clues reveal the adjacent setting (a zoo) by likening the music to animal sounds: As the brass section plays, the snake asks, “Is that an elephant I hear?” Wright simply depicts the adult conductor’s instructive movements: arms drawn in close for “Quiet…” and outstretched for “Loud!” Thinly applied acrylic paint in green, purple and brown reveals the canvas’ weave, while black ink contours and delineates instruments, kids and animals. Dots and dashes depict facial features, but varying skin colors and hair textures suggest a diverse, engaged community.
Back at the right pit, the snake twists into a treble clef—a charming endnote. (Picture book. 3-6)