“Nothing great can be achieved in art without enthusiasm.” That is one of the many insights in Robert Schumann’s Advice to Young Musicians (Chicago, $18) “revisited” by cellist Steven Isserlis. It is an ideal gift for all music lovers and students—whether adult concert goers or Suzuki beginners. Mr. Isserlis is a world-renowned cellist, and has also written books about composers for children. He calls Schumann a “genius…far ahead of his time” both as a composer and as an educator. In Advice to Young Musicians (first published in 1850), Schumann’s “poetic words of wisdom” are retranslated, and arranged into four themes by Isserlis, who adds his own explanations and witty updates for a modern age. Isserlis ends with a chapter of his own “bits of advice.” I’ll end with words from Isserlis, then Schumann: “…vow never to lose your love for the music itself.” And “relieve the severity of your musical studies by reading poetry. Take lots of walks!”
Young Marco the fox is forever asking curious and unanswerable questions to no avail. So when The Antlered Ship (Simon & Schuster, $17.99) arrives, captained by deer who are recruiting more crew, Marco jumps at this chance for adventure. Each sailor, whether deer or pigeon, is seeking something; Marco just wants to meet “foxes with answers.” Daksha Slater describes the animals’ adventures and friendships in warm and poignant tones. The Fan Brothers use a combination of soft graphite for background, atmospheric mists, waves, and rocks; detailed ballpoint pen for the naturalistic animals, ship, and landscapes; and light, subtle colors to perfectly evoke this philosophical search. Ages 5-8.
Our story opens as a mouse is “quickly gobbled up” by a wolf and travels to the carnivore’s stomach. There, the hapless rodent meets a duck, comfy-at-home—complete with bed, kitchen, and a dining table. The duck extols the benefits of living “inside,” and the mouse asks to stay. They dance to celebrate, resulting in a chain reaction—both inside and outside the wolf. And at the end of this unlikely story of The Wolf, the Duck, & the Mouse (Candlewick, $17.99), you’ll find out “why the wolf howls at the moon.” Mac Barnett mixes contemporary and old-fashioned dialogue (“oh woe, oh death”) in a whimsical, modern-day Just So Story. Caldecott Medalist Jon Klassen (This Is Not My Hat) uses brownish brushstrokes, thick pencil lines, and his characteristic genius at depicting animals both delighted and deadpan to bring our three heroes to life. Ages 5-9.