Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Children's Corner: Picture Book Review: The Bremen Town Musicians by Brian Wildsmith

The Bremen Town Musicians
Words by Brian Wildsmith
Illustrated by Brian Wildsmith
Published by Star Bright Books
Published in 2012
40 Pages
Ages 4-8

A retelling of the Grimm Brothers’ beloved tale about an old donkey who leaves the farm to travel to Bremen where he hopes to join a band. On the way, he meets a dog, a cat, and a rooster. With a bray, a bark, a meow, and a cock-a-doodle-doo, they become fast friends and decide to travel together to Bremen—getting there leads to great unexpected results.

A line or two: 

Come with me, said the donkey. I am on my way to Brennen. You can bark and I can bray, and together we can sing in the town band.

And so they went along the highway happily together.

My Thoughts:

The Bremen Town Musicians has a little bit of everything - animal friends, a little adventure, just enough repitition to keep things interesting, and of course some bad guys who get what's coming to them! 

Apparently this children's picture book is based off an old tale by the Brother's Grimm. I didn't know that before first reading it. I just thought this was a marvelous book for young children. My only disappointment was the ending since it seemed to make the title of the book a little moot. But knowing that it was a retelling, I actually think the ending was clever. 

I haven't read the orginal tale, but I imagine since it was Brother's Grimm it was probably very dark. This retelling had just that edginess to it and nothing too dark. I would feel completely comfortable reading it to my own child when she reaches the recommended age (4-8). In fact, after finishing it (which I read on my computer) I was a little sad that I didn't have a physical copy to read and share.The animal friendships were probably what makes this story so accessible to young children. At every stop, the animals find a new friend, someone old and unwanted but who is still worthy of someone's love and becomes useful in new ways. What a message!

Illustrations are a very important part of children's picture books as well. For a retelling that is set sometime in the past, these were perfect. They reminded me of an old fairy tale book I used to own when I was a child. All the details are in the right places. Animals, houses, and trees, for example have wonderful detail on them. Everything else is just there for effect. And knowing any child like my own who gets distracted quite easily by any extra, uneeded details, I really appreciated both the art style and where the illustrations put their focus.

Recommended to anyone who wants to share a fairly less known Brother's Grimm story with their child.

Disclaimer: I received a free e-copy of this book via Net Galley in exchange for my honest opinion.

You can purchase The Bremen Town Musicians in paperback and hardcover from Amazon.

You can also see The Bremen Town Musicians on Goodreads to read more reviews or add it to your list.

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