PaperTigers most recent issue focuses on music. In the Illustrator’s Gallery is featured the work of Satoshi Kitamura — an artist who has a ‘gift for illustrating poetry.’ In the gallery, one can see images from the book The Carnival of the Animals: Poems inspired by Saint-Saëns Music. As the title states, the book contains an array of poems (edited by Judith Chernaik) on the various animals featured in Camille Saint-Saën’s musical piece. A CD accompanies the book.
My daughter and I recently had the opportunity to try the book and the CD out on our son’s brand new computer. Using Windows media player which plays the music with accompanying graphics, we listened while flipping through the book. The CD contains the poems read aloud followed by the musical pieces. My daughter enjoyed anticipating which animal would come up next by looking at the pictures collected on the front page of the book and guessing through elimination which animal was next. It was fun to see how image, text and music combined to create an overall effect or sense of the featured animals. Sometimes, the poems were a reversal of the stereotypical image of an animal. In “Tortoise” for example, poet Chernaik writes of a tortoise who “dreams of twirling on tabletops,/turning cartwheels,/kicking up her heels at the Carnival ball.” My daughter disagreed with this picture, but I could see where the music might have inspired the poet’s notion of a tortoise as a dancer, say, in a slow but elegant waltz. Here’s a video link to the poem and music: Carnival: Tortoise
Animals make wonderful inspiration for all kinds of art — music, poetry and drawing. Carnival of the Animals is a great book for combining all these art forms to give a child a unique experience of text, image and sound.