The Oboe Goes Boom Boom Boom

Greenwillow/HarperCollins/. Sept. 2020. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062494375.
PreS-Gr 2–It can be hard to use words and images to convey the sound an instrument makes, but this picture book pulls it off with aplomb. A harried but enthusiastic band director, Mr. V, who is white, introduces readers to a variety of instruments, including the clarinet, oboe, trumpet, flute, saxophone, trombone, tuba, and drums. Mr. V describes not only what kind of sound the instruments make, but also how that sound is created. Illustrations that are equal parts comical and deeply informative depict reeds with smiling faces, percussion instruments with feet, and swirling, twirling grinning music notes. Each instrument is demonstrated by one member of a multiracial array of students, and every student is named and illustrated after a notable musician (brief biographies are provided in the back matter of the book). Venable’s text is interwoven with threads of humor, charm, and creativity. Of particular note is her description of the instruments’ unique sounds: “Listening to a clarinet is like eating rich chocolate cake, bold and sweet at the same time,” and a saxophone “sounds the way a satin ribbon feels between your fingers.” Cho’s bright, eye-popping illustrations create a happy chaos on the page, and one can almost imagine the cacophony of a room full of children practicing their instruments.
VERDICT An altogether delightful introduction to musical instruments. Recommended for all collections.

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