What Do You Hear?

Image of What Do You Hear?
Release Date: 
September 27, 2018
Reviewed by: 

Introduces young children to 10 orchestra instruments. Quirky animal characters. Realistic drawings.

Kate Sullivan likes to play around with words, music and pictures. She’s a linguist, musician, painter, composer and author. She has won awards for her theatre piece and one of her music compositions. What Do You Hear?’s eight and a half by eleven inches size is a plus for young children. Each page has a colorful drawing of a musical instrument with the question: Do you hear . . .”

For example, the first page is a violin with the question: “Do you hear a violin?” When we turn the page, we see a rabbit playing a violin with the written sound: “twinny-twin!” On another page there is a bassoon with: “Do you hear a bassoon?” On the next page a giraffe plays bassoon “a-lumpity-lum!” Some of the animals are a frog, a pig, a lion, and a billy goat. Each animal is playing an instrument of the orchestra until page 21 when we see the quirky billy goat conductor coming out from backstage to conduct the full orchestra. The last three pages ask: “What do you hear?” And we see all the quirky animals playing the instruments in the book. The answer is” “An orchestra!”

The colors of the drawings are vibrant and kooky. For example, the rabbit playing the violin is wearing a green dress and high heels; the giraffe playing the bassoon is sitting on a bench, his long neck jutting out of a red sweater; and the lion playing the tuba is sitting on a chair, dressed in a black suit, his legs spread apart to accommodate the huge tuba. One can feel their movements as they blow or pluck strings.

According to the author, “children will have fun learning about the instruments in an orchestra and the distinctive sounds they make.” However, it would have been better if a CD were included with the actual sounds of each instrument. On the other hand, young children do have fun making their own sounds. Also, it would have been better to have the animals on one side of the page and the instruments on the opposite side instead of on the next page. It would be easier to see both at the same time.

Music teachers of young children will appreciate the book because of the quirky way the animals are dressed and the word plays: “thrummy-thrum,” “trip-a-lip,” “a-rumble-bumble.” Young children love to experiment with words and sounds. They could also have fun drawing their own animals with the instruments.