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Peter and the Wolf


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Sergei Prokofiev was a Russian and Soviet composer, pianist, and conductor. Creator of masterpieces across numerous musical genres, he is regarded as one of the major composers of the 20th century. His works include the March from The Love for Three Oranges, the suite Lieutenant Kije, the ballet Romeo and Juliet - from which "Dance of the Knights" is taken - and Peter and the Wolf. He created seven completed operas, seven symphonies, eight ballets, five piano concertos, two violin concertos, a cello concerto, a Symphony-Concerto for cello and orchestra, and nine completed piano sonatas. Charles Mikolaycak was best known for his Children's book illustrations. His book I Am Joseph was an ALA Notable Book, Peter and the Wolf received a Society of Illustrators notation, and Babushka was a New York Times Best Illustrated Book.


PreS-Gr 3-Grammy Award-winner Jim Dale artfully narrates the beloved tale of young Peter and his animal friends, and introduces a new generation to a story that has delighted audiences for three-quarters of a century. Written by Sergei Prokofiev, the story helps children become familiar with some of the instruments in the orchestra, while spinning a harrowing tale. Unlike other versions that have changed the ending or added narration, this presentation is more faithful to the original composition. The recording begins by introducing the characters and the instruments that will represent them. Young Peter ventures out beyond the garden gate, despite his grandfather's warnings about the vicious wolf living in the woods. Grandfather soon brings him back home, but then disaster strikes and the wolf gobbles up duck. Peter once again sneaks out and, with the help of his friends, cat and bird, captures the wolf with a very clever trick. Hunters who come out of the woods want to shoot the wolf, but Peter convinces them to take him to the zoo. Everyone then proceeds to the zoo, with the duck, still alive, quacking inside the wolf's belly! The music is superbly performed by the Seattle Symphony. A different instrument portrays each character and Jim Dale is a master of narration. He gives each character a distinct voice, telling Peter's tale with wit and great suspense. A wonderful introduction to the orchestra, and a delightful classic tale.-MaryAnn Karre, Horace Mann and Thomas Jefferson Elementary Schools, Binghamton, NY (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

This presentation of Prokofiev's symphonic fairy tale loses its melody in a wordy adaptation of the narrative. In the opening scene, instead of simply meeting Peter as he opens the garden gate early one morning, readers weave their way through "the great forest... just outside town" to an "apple tree on the bank of a pond [where] one of the tree's sturdy branches hung above the fence and over a garden." Here, Peter and his friend, the little bird, finally meet. Though the characters remain true to form and the story line of a brave young boy capturing a wild and ravenous wolf remains intact, the essence of Prokofiev's masterpiece, a study in simplicity, is obscured by labyrinthine details. Gukova's (The Blind Fairy) mixed-media illustrations, alive with color and texture, allow for intimate encounters with each of the animals. In one of the most enchanting, as the cat stealthily approaches his potential feathered prey, the duck exits the lower right-hand corner of the spread in a great splash of water while only the reflection of the fleeing bird is visible in the pond. Yet some of the images here may be more menacing than they would be in a listener's imagination. And fans of the original tale will miss the closing sounds of the duck's quacking from inside the wolf's stomach (she's been swallowed whole), which goes unmentioned here. Ages 5-8 (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

K-Gr 2-Wiencirz attempts to flesh out the basic story by adding dialogue and description. Unfortunately, rather than adding to the overall impact of the story, this effort only seems to make it more wordy. The clipped sentences sound slightly stilted: "One morning Peter woke up early. He went out into the garden and looked around. Where was his friend the little bird? Peter gave a soft whistle." Compare that passage to Patricia Crampton's Peter and the Wolf (Picture Book Studio, 1987; o.p.): "Only Peter's friend the bird, perched at the top of a big tree, sang the song of the peaceful meadow and the quiet, blue pond." Gukova's illustrations, reminiscent of Eastern European folk art, are more successful than the text. The animals, in particular, are nicely portrayed and seem to have distinct personalities as they interact. The design is basic-a single block of text placed on a double-page painting. Librarians needing a version of this story would be better served by Selina Hastings's Peter and the Wolf (Holt, 1995) or Patricia Crampton's book.-Tim Wadham, Maricopa County Library District, Phoenix, AZ Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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