This is a simply stunning book crafted with love and skill. It contains six carefully selected stories which have inspired great pieces of Classical music. The music is drawn from the work of a range of composers – Greig, Rimsky Korsakov, Dukas, Pushkin and Rossini. The introduction sets the scene as we are encouraged to imagine an orchestra tuning up before the curtain is raised and the performance begins.
The collection includes stories from Europe and Asia, some likely to be familiar to many readers such as The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and In the Hall of the Mountain King as well as the less familiar Swan of Tuonela. We meet Scheherazade, the girl who bewitches the bitter sultan into saving her life by telling stories collected in the classic text The Thousand and One Nights. As well as Scheherazade’s own story we hear a taste of the tales of adventure and love which she told.
The text is very well written, the stories skillfully unfold with some lovely descriptive passages. Through the stories readers will encounter an array of characters, both heroes and villains including sorcerers, trolls and sea monsters, princesses and sultans.
Mayhew is a highly accomplished artist and he has created fabulous multilayered illustrations depicting the story worlds. Printed papers, rubbings, fabric, lace and music manuscript are collaged to create texture, pattern and depth. The book design is lovely with end papers full of lino cut images representing each of the stories and there is a beautiful compilation of images from each story on the cover.
The back of the book provides information about the composers and the writers whose stories inspired them. There is also a suggested playlist so that children can explore the music inspired by the stories.
Music, art and storytelling come together beautifully in this wonderful picturebook. A perfect gift book likely to be treasured and pored over by adults and children alike.