I must admit that at first glance I dismissed this book as one of those books parents pick for their children to appear high brow and culturally in tune, but I was wrong. My daughter selected The Fabulous Feud of Gilbert & Sullivan by Jonah Winter at our local library for this week’s Summer Reading Kid Pick. I think her choice was strongly influenced by the illustrations, especially the intricate costumes of the Japanese Geishas and the colorful opera sets.
The Publisher’s Take: Caldecott Medalist Richard Egielski teams up with Jonah Winter for a story of friendship, fights, and musical comedy! Welcome to Topsy-Turvydom, a magical kingdom (well, more like an opera stage) full of pirates, policemen, fairies, and fake mustaches! Mr. Gilbert and Mr. Sullivan have ruled this kingdom together in peace, but one day, Mr. Sullivan decides he’s had enough. Every opera they write is the same silly old story, and he’s ready for something different. Something serious! Mr. Gilbert is stunned. He’s lost his business partner and his best friend, and he needs a brilliant idea in order to get him back.
The 7 Year Old’s Take: This book is fun. I read it to my mom and brother. I like books about other countries and time travel. This book was about England a long time ago and two friends.
The Mom’s Take: This book was a hit with both my son and daughter. My son had lots of questions about the “man who writes the music” so I guess he never thought much before about the people behind music composition and song writing. He was also loving the pictures of the men with swords. The Fabulous Feud of Gilbert & Sullivan also did a nice job explaining how friends can fight and ultimately resolve disagreements. The publisher recommends this book for ages 4-8, but I think it resonated best with my children’s ages 6 and 7. They understood the characters and situation, and had lots of questions about the time period. The story begins by telling readers that England was “not so jolly” during Queen Victoria’s reign and that children worked in factories. This lead to an entire conversation about kids’ roles in their families and within society in olden times. I personally love letting books initiate these conversations.
* Photos courtesy of Scholastic Books