Six of the most recognizable songs from Tchaikovsky’s ballet receive brief board-book treatment.
The prominently boldfaced title of each dance is followed by a brief suggestion of what to listen for or find in the illustration. Toddlers will easily locate and press the button that plays 13 to 16 seconds of the opening bars of each song. There is no real attempt to place the whimsical tunes in context or to follow a storyline; instead, each spread is illustrated with dancing cartoon animals dressed in brightly colored, vaguely ethnic costumes. For example, for the “Russian Dance,” three gray foxes wear Cossack-type hats and embroidered jackets. Two pandas wearing Mandarin suit jackets dance around a teapot to illustrate the “Chinese Dance.” Most readers, whether toddlers or adults, will wonder what’s going on in the “Dance of the Mirlitons”; the animals “performing” it are wearing generic Western play clothes. No matter; the real point of this book is the music, which comes through clearly regardless of how the book is handled. A power supply installed in the last, extra-thick page has an “on/off” switch hidden under a flap. Instructions in tiny print explain how to replace the three button cell batteries.
In the age of YouTube and downloadable music, a holiday board book with recordings is probably not an essential purchase, but this is a well-executed alternative for caregivers wanting to incorporate music with reading time. (Board book. 1-3)