Reviews of children's and young adult books old and new

Monday, March 1, 2010

Who Knew Colors Could Be So Cute?

Musicians of the Sun by Gerald McDermott

From Simon & Schuster this is a retelling of how the world was given light and color. It begins with the Lord of the Night, King of the Gods, Soul of the World using his magic mirror to look down at the earth and seeing that the people there lived in darkness and were unhappy. He calls Wind to him and asks him to go to Sun and free the four musicians imprisoned there, Red, Yelllow, Blue, and Green. He gives wind a shield of thunder and bolts of lighnting to help him defeat Sun. After a long journey over the earth and sea Wind makes it to Sun. Sun does not want to give up his musicians but Wind is able to defeat him and take Red, Yelllow, Blue, and Green to earth. There they play for the people and there was color on the earth, the people and even Sun was happy by the music they played. All gave thanks to the Lord of the Night.

This story is part of an Aztec legend and retold by McDermott. The illustrations in this book are great. They were created with fabric paint, opaque ink, and oil pastel on paper. There is a wonderful use of texture and color (or lack thereof) throughout the book. Even in the beginning when only grays and browns are used you get a great sense of movement and the South American landscape. At the end of the story there is a section explaining how this story was preserved, I enjoyed learning about the origins of the written version of this tale. The word to image ratio is great for a read aloud to a classroom. There are many things to look at on each page and a great opportunity to learn about another culture. Add to all these great things that the color musicians are really cute and you have a wonderful read aloud. I recommend for children ages 2-5 or for an elementary classroom learning about the Aztecs.

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