Pacific Book Review
The sound of music figuratively jumps off the pages of this marvelously written and abundantly illustrated book by author Morgan Cochneuer. The ABC’s of Jug Band Music, we learn at the end of the book, was conceived as a challenge by the author to come up with an alphabetical series of lyrics teaching youngsters of the homemade instruments comprising the genre of Jug Band Music; of which this unique book has more than exceeded its goals.
Beginning with “A” for an Autoharp, the book sets off next to: “B” for Banjo; “C” for a Cat that knows a good song; “D” for a Dancer who taps right along – and so on all the way to “Z” - which is a Zither (anything with strings stretched across a box). I guarantee there are letters and names of instruments everyone reading this book will learn - as I have - it is that original and educational!
The galley text, along with the artful illustrations, brings a reading cadence to the paging of these images, and at a pace which forms a mentally musical harmonic sing-a-long impression. This technique is very cleverly achieved, and one can imagine how it has taken a huge amount of thought, creativity, and editing to get it to the point of which it is – truly masterful. Not only does this introduce many new words and definitions of novelinstruments, but it actually forms music in readers’ minds - which is remarkable!
The category of educational illustrated children’s book is vast and ever expanding, yet rarely does a book with this combination of words and images, focused on a theme of introducing a rather obscure niche of the music world appear. The ABC’s of Jug Band Music does so with such an elementary common denominator which every age reader can enjoy. Yes, parents reading this book to their youngsters will have as much fun as their kids. Both parents and children will rush to grab this book off the bookcase at night for a bedtime story; one which excites, comforts and creates such an impactful experience.
The ABC’s of Jug Band Music is a must-have book for all young family libraries. It may be the root of inspiration for many new young musicians to experiment and improvise with household items as was common in the past. I remember how blowing over the top of a soda bottle intrigued me, or tapping on a box, and making up melodies became a fun “game” to play. Let the music begin!
The ABC’s of Jug Band Music
by Morgan Cochneuer
book review by Mark Heisey
"Now you’ve heard a song about the ABC’s of Jug Band Music won’t you sing with me?"There are a lot of ABC books from which to choose. This one focuses on using original lyrics from the alphabet song to explore jug band music. Most of the lyrics focus on the instruments used in this genre of music, although there are a few exceptions, including a pirate and a question. Each letter gets its own page, rhyme, and full-color illustration. The book also includes a brief description of what jug band music is and when it came to prominence. Overall, with the bright graphics and simple, recognizable rhyme scheme, the book is upbeat in tone and suited for even the youngest readers.
Cochneuer is clearly passionate about his subject material. Children picking up this book will find themselves learning a little about this kind of music in a format that will be familiar to them. The pictures primarily consist of stock images but serve their purpose well. The text itself is easy to read and gets its points across clearly. This book would be a good addition to the bookshelf of an elementary music teacher and serve as a unique reference source when discussing different types of music. A teacher might even challenge slightly older students to use it as a blueprint to write their own ABC story based on a different style of music. Musically oriented parents might also see this as a fun way to teach their children the alphabet. Overall, it is an accessible tool that almost anyone can use to introduce jug band music to young children.
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This review was written by a professional book reviewer with no guarantee that it would receive a positive rating. Some authors pay a small fee to have a book reviewed, while others do not. All reviews are approximately half summary and half criticism. The US Review of Books is dedicated to providing fair and honest coverage to all books.