Title: Symphony City

Author/Illustrator: Amy Martin

Publisher: San Francisco, CA: McSweeney’s McMullen’s, 2011

Genre: Picture book, fiction

Audience Age: 4 and up

Theme: music, finding the arts in everyday life, imagination, creativity

Opening Sentences: Free concert today, Symphony City Orchestra, downtown. We can make it if we hurry.

Synopsis: As the girl and her father hurry through a crowded subway station to get to the free concert, she loses her grip on his hand, and loses him in the crowd. She is alone, but knows she can find her own way by listening to the sound of the music of the city. In her journey, she finds music and art and dance everywhere, in every experience.

The moment of her losing contact with her father might be a bit frightening for younger children, but they will be reassured by the girl’s confidence and will be delighted by the colors and sounds, people and experiences she encounters, and will be relieved when she finds her way home to be greeted with a hug from her mother. The last words of the book, “The best songs love you back,” are truly a celebration of home, and love, and the music that has led her back to her family.

To get an idea of the illustrations for the book, which are simple, but loaded with color and movement, check out Amy Martin’s website.

Activities/Resources: The first activity comes with the book – the dustjacket unfolds into a fabulous poster!

Many symphony orchestras have kids’ pages on their websites, such as the Dallas Symphony Orchestra with DSO Kids.

There are links to learning experiences in Visual Arts, Music and Theatre at Link To Learning.

Since the girl in the book experiences music and art in many things during her walk through the city, a “Look and Listen” walk whether one lives in the city or the country would be a good activity to do after reading this book. Listen for the sounds of the city’s music, of nature’s music. Look for the colors and shapes of the art of the city, of nature. See how the wind makes things dance.

Availability: Readily available in hardcover.

Every Friday, bloggers join together to share picture book reviews and resources, thanks to author Susanna Leonard Hill’s brainchild, “Perfect Picture Book Fridays.” Susanna then adds the books (and links to the reviews) to a comprehensive listing by subject on her blog. Find the entire listing at her “Perfect Picture Books.”


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