Pressure-sensitive sound chips waft strains from Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” over a child’s daylong outing.
Cotton compresses an entire seasonal round into a single day, as Isabelle and her puppy, Pickle, wake to morning bird song, venture out to a springtime festival through changeable weather for an Easter egg hunt, help with the autumn harvest after another storm, then make their way home over snowy landscapes. Courtney-Tickle fills broad country scenes with flowers, fruits, foliage, deer, and other wildlife—plus a cast of frolickers that is carefully diverse in age as well as hair and skin color. Isabelle, who is white, can be picked out of the crowd easily thanks to her yellow raincoat. Pressing a designated spot in each illustration activates about 10 seconds of bright, if tinny, music, and following the tale and a brief biography of the composer, listening notes suggest what each of the themes might represent: “Can you hear the violinists plucking strings with their fingertips? Vivaldi wanted this bit to sound like icy rain outside of a window.”
Sound quality aside, a sprightly introduction to program music and also to one of its greatest exemplars. (Novelty picture book. 5-8)