Nonfiction Monday: Vivaldi’s Four Seasons by Anna Harwell Celenza and Illustrated by JoAnn E. Kitchel

Vivaldi's Four SeasonsVivaldi’s Four Seasons by Anna Harwell Celenza and Illustrated by JoAnn E. Kitchel.  Ages 2+. Charlesbridge Publishing, Inc. July 2012. 48 pages.  ISBN: 978-1570916373 $19.95

Why Am I Reviewing this Book?  In an attempt to begin introducing my son to classical music I searched through my library’s catalog and checked out this book.  I was surprised by how much my son and I enjoyed it.  This is a fantastic depiction of Vivaldi and has included a CD of the Four Seasons.

The Short:  I had no idea that there was an all girls orchestra in Italy in the eighteenth century.  All of these girls were orphans living in an orphanage!  They were directed by Vivaldi — who was a priest!  These girls would perform his works to crowds who couldn’t see them.  I’ve been listening to Vivaldi since 1997 and didn’t know any of this.  It was a lot of fun to learn a little about Vivaldi’s life and introduce my son to his music.  The story is well written.  Complex enough for an adult to enjoy, but straightforward enough that my two-year-old son was also able to follow it.  He contentedly sat through several readings of this book.  We highly, highly recommend this book.  

The Long:  My choir teacher introduced me to Vivaldi and I’ve loved listening to him ever since.  One night while I was having one of those, Am-I-Doing-Enough-for-My-Son moments — I decided that it was time to start introducing my son to classical music — to really start talking about composers and pieces of music and various styles.  We’ve been listening to Beethoven’s Wig since my son was 18 months old (and we HIGHLY recommend it) but I figured it was time to start branching out and listening to and reading about other composers.

I found this book and I think it is fantastic.  It gives a great depiction of Vivaldi.  While there are liberties taken with Vivaldi’s history (but still based on actual history) — it gives a great impression of what it was like for Vivaldi and a little about what he might have been like.  I was impressed with how clearly this book is written and how interesting Vivaldi’s life was.  The book’s main focus is on the orphanage’s girls, but it is all through the context of how they relate to Vivaldi.

The illustrations are wonderful.  They are interesting to look at for me and held my two-year-old son’s attention.  I loved him seeing pictures of other people playing musical instruments.  The style, with its bold outlines of the drawings is cartoony but still sophisticated.  It sets a wonderful tone for reading the book.

There is nothing for me to edit or change when I read this book to my son.  The vocabulary is excellent and had me looking up the differences between opera, cantata, sonata, and concerto.    My son found the word, “Hogwash,” very amusing.

At the end of the book you can find The Sonnets that go along with the Four Seasons and an Author’s Note explaining exactly what parts of the book are facts and what parts of the book are the author’s own imaginings.

We listened to the CD after reading the book.  It was a lot of fun to dance around our living room to the Four Seasons.  We will have many more times of reading this book followed by living room dancing.  I’m also excited to check out other books by this author.  Amazon tells me that she’s written several other books about classical music and I’m definitely intrigued to see what else she’s written.

Reading this book to my son makes me feel like I’m being a good parent.  I also loved how much I learned and learning more about Vivaldi’s life made me appreciate his music all the more.  It also made me feel a bit more connected to it.  I think that’s true when we learn the history of most anything from music to art to sports.  I hope you take the time to check out this book — I’m sure you’re going to love it.

Where Obtained:  Public Library.

FTC Disclosures: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” If you click on the link and purchase the book, I will receive an affiliate commission.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Author/Illustrator Websites:  

nonfiction.mondayI’m linking this post up with Nonfiction Monday hosted this week over at Hope Is the Word.    Click the link to see other contributors and find out what nonfiction books they recommend.

10 comments

  1. I got totally excited when I saw the title of your post. Our family LOVES the Four Seasons by Vivaldi! I got chills reading about the all girls orchestra that he directed – that’s amazing! I hope I can find this book in our library – thanks for sharing it. If you get the chance, I’d love for you to share this book in the Kid Lit Blog Hop – we are going live on Wednesday. Have a wonderful week! :-)

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  2. Amy

    I am always looking for books about music for my kids (and they seem fairly hard to come by!). This one looks excellent. What age did it seem geared for? Thanks!

    Like

    • It seems geared for children around 6 – 9 years old. It’s kinda hard for me to say though — because my 2 year old likes this book a lot but I’m not sure how much he understands. He’s had me read it to him several times at this point.

      Like

  3. I love the way you are including reviews of nonfiction books!!! It’s so easy to forget about all the great nonfiction out there – and it makes it SOOO much easier when we introduce nonfiction to kids at a young age!

    Great review!

    Blessings,
    Alyson

    Like

    • Thank you! I’ve been really impressed and happy with the nonficiton picture book selection out there. I don’t think the new Core Curriculum that sets to go into place in a few years is going to suffer from a lack of good picture books. :)

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  4. Pingback: Top Ten Tuesday: Picture Bookish Goals for 2013 | The Picture Book Review

  5. Thanks for all the kind words about my book, VIVALD’S FOUR SEASONS. I’m so glad you and your son are enjoying it! There are 7 other books in the series. I think your son will especially enjoy THE FAREWELL SYMPHONY, and BACH’S GOLDBERG VARIATIONS. Both of these are geared for slightly younger kids. I enjoy your blog…and it was a thrill to see my name pop up among your favorites! Thank you!!

    Like

    • My pleasure! We’ve read Vivaldi and the Four Seasons several times this week. We can’t say enough great things about it. We’ll definitely be checking out more of your books. I’m so happy to discover that there are several more in this series. What a great way to introduce children (and adults) to beautiful music and composers.

      Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment! I appreciate it! :)

      Like

  6. Pingback: Saturday Toons: "Vivaldi's 4 Seasons" in Sand Art - Lez Get Real | Lez Get Real

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