When Maestro Mouse loses his baton, a group of young concertgoers conduct a search through all the sections of the orchestra.
The Barneses, whose mice have previously explored U.S. history and the workings of our federal government, now turn their attention to Washington, D.C., culture, setting this new story in a slightly altered Kennedy Center. (The exterior is Carnegie Hall in New York City; the inside a clear representation of the Center’s Concert Hall and vast corridors, though the bust of Kennedy has been replaced by one of Beethoven.) This well-meant introduction to a symphony orchestra is hampered by awkward language and unskilled illustrations. The lost-and-found story is written in rhyming fourteeners—a verse pattern that requires unnaturally lengthy lines and is difficult to write smoothly or read aloud comfortably. The conductor’s facial features differ from page to page, his shirt buttons occasionally change orientation, and, on one page, he’s lost his boutonniere. Section by section, mouse children, differentiated by their clothing, scurry through the orchestra seeking the baton. Usually the illustrations follow the text, but the larger stringed instruments don’t appear until three spreads after their mention in verse. Scott Hennesy and Joe Lanzisero play the same premise more skillfully in The Cat’s Baton Is Gone (2012).
Audiences can skip this amateur hour at the National Symphony. (notes for parents and teachers, matching game, facts, a page for a written response) (Informational picture book. 6-8)