Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Beethoven for Kids and Verdi for Kids (Chicago Review Press)

We have a great number of publishers of children's literature available to us currently. I find myself looking through Amazon weekly to see what is out and what is coming out. A lot of the newer books seem silly, and borderline dumb to me. This makes me scour catalogs or Amazon even harder to find books that are both educational and a joy to read. Chicago Review Press has a great series called "For Kids." In this series, your children are introduced to "different people, events, and ideas that changed the world." The famous people include historical figures, people of science, artists, musicians, etc. Today, I will be reviewing Beethoven for Kids and Verdi for Kids.

Beethoven for Kids begins with an introduction explaining some of the many obstacles Beethoven had to overcome in his life. He was deaf, lived in poverty, and had an alcoholic father. He had poor health, and he had to support his mother and younger siblings. We are then treated to a timeline that chronicled major milestones in his life. The book then walks us through Beethoven's life and his major symphonies. Included in the chapters are extra boxes of text that tell you interesting background or factual information like who Beethoven's patrons were or what a symphony is. The greatest part of the book are the activities you can do with your children. The activities vary in degree of difficulty, from making a silhouette picture to making Austrian apple pancakes. This is a very engaging book perfect for kids 9 and older that not only teaches them about Beethoven and music, but also the time and place he grew up in. Highly recommended.

Verdi for Kids is laid out in a somewhat similar format as Beethoven for Kids. However, the Time Line comes before the Introduction in this book, instead of vice versa like Beethoven for Kids. The introduction focuses on Italian Opera, as opposed to Verdi. Verdi's life was filled with disappointment early on by having his application denied at a conservatory in Milan. However, it was tragedy that had a more profound effect on his life. He was married to a woman named Margherita, and they had two children. Both children died in infancy while he was working on his first opera, and she died shortly thereafter from encephalitis. A lot of the extra boxes tell us about different musical pieces, like what a cantata is or what a Bel canto is. One tells us about agriculture in Italy during Verdi's time, and another highlights the Franco-Prussian War. Activities for your children range from solving a word search to planting a "tomato sauce" garden. Having never been a huge opera fan, I find myself appreciating this style of music more. I have decided to give it another try, at least Verdi's operas. I can't wait to check out other books in the "For Kids" series.

These books were provided to me for free by Chicago Review Press in exchange for honest reviews. If you found them helpful, please click here and/or here, and hit Yes!