88 Instruments

illus. by Louis Thomas. 32p. Knopf. Aug. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780553538144.
PreS-Gr 2—A bespectacled boy is given the opportunity to learn an instrument, but when his parents bring him to a music shop, he has trouble choosing among his 88 options. What ensues is a playful exploration of sound and the vast (and cacophonous) world of musical instruments. The boy's overwhelmed parents follow him as he tries out the triangle, trombone, tuba, harp, and drums and everything else in between. Barton's use of superlatives results in a hilarious onomatopoeic romp through the shop: "Do I pick the squeeziest? The wheeziest? The easiest and breeziest? But how about the slideyest…the squonkiest…the blowiest…?" The work's title might give away the child's eventual pick, but readers will have a fun time arriving at his final decision. While at first overwhelmed at having to master the 88 keys of the piano, the boy is determined to learn one note at a time. Thomas's watercolor illustrations accentuate the silly narrative, adding pizzazz and fluidity to the text. The warm browns and yellows evoke a place of comfort—while the narrator is frazzled by his plethora of selections, he's secure in his ability to eventually choose. The illustrator's expressive line emphasizes each of the characters' reactions with humor and gusto.
VERDICT A delightful offering for reading aloud, especially during music-themed storytimes.

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