Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Review: The Big Bell and The Little Bell

Music and Lyrics:  Martin Kalmanoff
Illustrator:  Alastair Graham
Review Copy Provided by:  Boxer Books via The Picnic Basket

About the Book:  The classic 1950s song ‘The Big Bell and the Little Bell’ is brought to life in pictures, words and music. The big bell makes a mighty “bong!” while the little bell just makes a tiny “bing!” In this beautifully illustrated picture book, little ones will learn that those who make the biggest noise aren’t always as important as they think. Complete with audio CD featuring Julius La Rosa singing the original 1950s track, and a spectacular new recording by the London Crouch End Festival Chorus.

My Review:  I will have to admit that I have never heard the song that inspired this book.  However, I did enjoy this story.  I love books that have the book in the story.  I also love the fact that this story shows a mama cat reading this same book to her kitten as a bedtime story.  Reading to kids is so important, and this book reinforces that.  Mama Kitten is having to reread a favorite book; what parent hasn't done that?  This book has a great message too and it is repeated in the story, so I feel like children will get the underlying moral: "Those who make the biggest noise aren't always as important as they think."  What a great message for children!  If I was using this in the classroom, I might ask the students to write a reader's response to this book focusing on what that sentence means to them.  Alistair Graham has given new life to this musical storybook with his illustrations.  The cats just seem to jump off the page at you.  They are so cute!  Even the bells have faces; the big bell looking authoritarian and the little bell looking scared to death.  Which one will the king choose to play at his wedding?  You might be surprised when you read it!  I recommend this one to teachers and parents.  This is a Picnic Basket review, so I am giving it a rating of 4 - recommend without reservation.

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