In which Annie (high school teacher, mother of two young girls and a younger boy) and her aunt Deborah (children's bookseller, mother of two young women in their 20s) discuss children's books and come up with annotated lists.

Monday, October 24, 2011

More music (Bug-Gup!)

Dear Aunt Debbie,

Jim Dale seems to do a pretty good job with Peter and the Wolf.  I'm still stuck on my Bernstein, though -- there's a kind of warmth behind his voice that I find very appealing.  He sounds like he's enjoying himself, and is happy that you know the piece as well as he does.  He's quite encouraging.

One more book with music: Tubby the Tuba, by Paul Tripp, illustrated by Henry Cole.  I remember the Tubby the Tuba cartoon from my childhood mostly for Tubby's melancholy voice, and I'm pretty sure the CD recording included with this book is the same one.  I'm sure at least that it's not the new recording made by Meredith Viera advertised on the official Tubby website.

The illustrations are new -- nice and cartoony, and a little bit updated.  Tubby wears shorts and a t-shirt in rehearsal, and the orchestra's usual conductor shows up in jeans and Birkenstocks with socks.  Never fear -- when Signor Pizzicato, the guest conductor, arrives, everyone is in a tuxedo.

It's interesting to look back at Tubby the Tuba from an adult perspective.  It's so clearly a story about being an outsider and then figuring out a way to belong: Tubby wants to play the melodies that everyone in the orchestra gets to play, but he keeps squashing the poor little tune, and is relegated to going "oompah, oompah."  Yes, he's the fat kid no one wants to play with, and the violins are mean to him.   Wandering off at night, he meets up with a frog singing by a pond.  The frog's salutation may be my favorite part:

Bug-Gup! Bug-Gup!  Lovely evening!
Bug-Gup! I said, bee-oo-ti-ful evening.  Hello!
Bug-Gup! Hello! Bug-Gup! Hello!

The frog teaches Tubby a frog/tuba melody, and the next day, Tubby impresses Signor Pizzicato and the rest of the orchestra with it.  Everyone wants to play his tune.  Maybe it's a little didactic, but when you include the recording, it's a lot of fun.

Along with Peter and Tubby, my girls have Danse Macabre on repeat these days, and do a terrific dance where they pretend to be witches and are frightened away by sunrise at the end.  I don't think anyone has yet turned that into a children's book, but I expect Neil Gaiman will get there sooner or later.

Love, Annie

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