Saturday, June 4, 2016

Spring Reading 2016 Do You Hear What I Hear?


Helen Borten's bright illustrations and descriptive text take the reader through a discussion of all sorts of sounds. Everything from the moods they can create to the things they remind us of are mentioned. The loud noises of the city, the quiet of pigeons cooing, and the constant sound of the sea in motion may all be compared by their location and their effect. The similes in the book would be excellent examples to use with students in lessons on descriptive writing. Phrases like "fierce as a lion" and "mysterious as a secret whispered in someone's ear" make a much stronger impression than just saying loud or soft. The poetic nature of Borten's writing also comes through in sentences like, "There are sounds as near and warm as a kiss - or as far off and gray as a fog horn." 

She also points out that sometimes it is not the sound, but its source that causes a specific reaction in us. For example - a hiss from a snake is scary, the hiss of air leaking from a balloon is not. Besides talking about whether sounds can be long or short, high or low, and loud or soft, Borten also talks about rhythm and pattern. Brass bands, horses' hooves, and drums can all create a rhythm. When many instruments combine their sounds and rhythms together, they become an orchestra. The variety of sounds that are mentioned range from those too soft to hear, like the wings of a butterfly beating, to those that are loud like the noise from a circus.

The illustrations are done in the same style as Do You See What I See? with a mix of bright colors, printed patterns, and lines. I love the endpapers with musical notations printed over the shapes of saws, birds, bells, and french horns. The title page images could lead into a great discussion before the book is even begun, because young readers will be curious about the sound waves that are pictured and why they differ from each other. 

Whether readers are drawn to the book due to its visual appeal, or because they are interested in the subject of sound, they will have an enjoyable experience. Classrooms and school libraries would be wise to add copies of this title since it can be used with so many subjects - science, music, writing, and art, just to name a few. It is to be hoped that more of Helen Borten's classic children's books will be published soon for a new generation of readers to treasure.

I received a copy from the publisher for review purposes.

*Update 08/01/2016 We have added this book to the Fairview library. 

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