In simple and magical verse, Hartmann transports readers to the beautiful landscapes of Africa with a celebration of African music and instruments and the accompanying splendid natural sounds that birthed them.
Soft mixed-media illustrations with a strong emphasis on watercolors provide the backdrop for this celebration of African cultural contributions and the natural wonders that offered their inspiration. Hartmann eloquently writes, “In the beginning, when all things began, / these were the sounds which were music to man,” reminding readers of the long history of Africa as the motherland for all human beings. Featured in the onomatopoeic orchestra are the clicking of crickets, the crackle of fire, the “cr-i-sshh” of seedpod rattles, the “hummmm” of honeybees, and the “rumble” and “boo-oom” of the hooved animals of the grassland. Birds, frogs, and zebras are found along with choruses of traditionally dressed African men and women. “Through African nights and African days,” Hartmann emphasizes, “THIS is the music that the orchestra plays!” With its onomatopoeia, it’s a natural for participatory read-alouds, perhaps paired with Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin, by Lloyd Moss and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman (1995), and similar musical outings.
A magical tour of the natural wonders of the African continent tied with a celebration of the cultural foundations of African people who mined these sounds to create beautiful music. (Picture book. 5-8)