Friday, December 7, 2018

Review: The Carnival of the Animals by Elizabeth Varadan

by Elizabeth Varadan
Illustrated by Peter Fraser and
Susan Fraser
Belanger Books
Children's Myths / Fairy Tales / Fantasy

Once upon a musical score, Camille Saint-Saëns was stumped. He was composing a piece of music to entertain his friends. An idea twinkled in his mind. A musical fantasy. Animals in a parade. 
A tune beckoned. Camille inked in some quarter notes. The melody slipped away. 
I must let this idea bloom, Camille thought. 
He sat in the stuffed chair by the door and closed his eyes. Music and pictures swirled in his head: A tortoise waltzed. A peacock called. A lion stomped into a forest. 
Soon Camille was fast asleep. He dreamed of animals in the zoo. He dreamed of animals far away. 
Once upon a time, he dreamed…


Every page holds an exotic, adventurous and, at times, even whimsical tale surrounding the world of animals.

Camille Saint-Saëns loves music, and he wants to compose a piece for his friends, but inspiration can be hard to find. Then, it hits him—a parade of animals. Soon, the tune dances through his mind. Sitting back to let it develop in his head, he soon drifts away into a fantastical world.

This is a lovely collection of tales which centers around the French composer, Camille Saint-Saëns, well-known piece The Carnival of the Animals. To say that the author has done a fantastic job at bringing across the atmosphere of the composition while creating a collection of tales children are sure to adore is an understatement. This is one of those books which is a treat on any shelf and can be visited over and over again across generations and years.

The first chapter sets a very short scene which then allows the rest of the over dozen tales to unfold. Each story holds its own chapter, making it easy to locate favorites thanks to the table of contents. A fitting illustration starts off the chapter along with a corresponding phrase, and then the adventure begins. Everything from peacocks to tortoises, lions to elephants, and many other types of animals take center stage. The tales greet from all around the world, incorporating various cultures and themes. It's a colorful parade which opens up the imagination in so many ways.

While sure readers can tackle these pages on their own, this book works very well as a read-aloud for bedtime dreams as well as larger groups of children. The tales hold just the right amount of adventure and humor to keep each one interesting from beginning to end. Each one has its own flair and readers/listeners are sure to find their personal favorites.

I'm adding this book to my list of favorites for the year.

And here she is...

Elizabeth Varadan is a former elementary school teacher who retired a few years ago to write full time. Her work has appeared in Story Friends, Ladybug, and Skipping Stones Magazine, and her poems and picture books have won honorable mention in contests. She is the author of The Fourth Wish, a middle grade fantasy, Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls (Book One of a mystery series starring Sherlock Holmes), Dragonella, a picture book (both English and Spanish editions), and The Carnival of the Animals, a story collection for children of all ages.
Twitter: @4thWishVaradan on Twitter
Amazon author page:


Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Thanks so much for this lovely review, Tonja. I Had great fun writing this book, and I'm so glad you enjoyed reading it.

Unknown said...

I bought this book for my great-nephews for Christmas and I have been reading it first! The stories are enchanting. My favorite so far is the Unicorn. So much fun. I hope the children enjoy it as much as I do!

Nick Wilford said...

What a fun idea! Sounds like kids would love it.