Review Blog

Dec 11 2017

Stanley's playing the trumpet! by John Field

cover image

Ill. by Tull Suwannakit. Book+CD. Scholastic, 2017. ISBN 9781743815892
(Ages: 3-6) Themes: Musical instruments, talent. This is a musical story about Stanley, a rhino who practises and practises but can't quite get the hang of playing the trumpet. It isn't until he gets the urge to play the drums that he discovers his true musical talent. The accompanying CD contains the story set to music and is upbeat with a fast tempo. Some of the lines are magical ("a syncopated symphony of rhythmic passion"), and the book both reads well and sounds great sung. The story is about finding the instrument that suits you best and about having fun playing music with friends.
We often say to children that if they practise enough they will get good at something but this explores the idea of innate talent suited to a particular musical instrument. It is also a reminder to children that it is okay not to be great at everything, but to keep trying new things.
The story uses humour within the text and the illustrations, particularly to show the reader just how terrible Stanley's trumpet playing sounds. Birds are startled, Mum, Dad and the neighbours cover their ears and owls fall from trees in shock. Sound noises are also used in the text and within the illustrations: pop, squeak, flop, wheeeee, blooort and blaacch are just some of the ear-piercing noises that come from Stanley's trumpet.
The illustrations are fun, action-packed and filled with humour.
This is great for music teachers wanting to encourage children to keep looking for the instrument that suits them best.
Nicole Nelson

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