Monday, March 8, 2010

The Fabulous Feud of Gilbert & Sullivan

The Fabulous Feud of Gilbert & Sullivan. By Jonah Winter. Illustrated by Richard Egielski. Scholastic. 40 pages.

There was a time when jolly old England was not so jolly. Children worked in factories. Queen Victoria frowned. Everything was grim. Everything was the make believe kingdom of Topsy-Turvydom.

Jonah Winter has written a picture book biography of two men who worked together in the late nineteenth century. Gilbert and Sullivan. One would write words, the other music. Together they hoped to make people happy with their shows. But these two didn't always get along. Sometimes these two would fight, and fight, and fight. Jonah Winter tells the story of how even these arguments could be beneficial--creatively speaking. The picture book focuses on the creation of one of their shows, The Mikado.

I do think that the book is written well enough. It's a book about friendship, about ups and downs, and how friends have to forgive each other faults and make allowances...if they want to stay friends. That friendship is about give and take.

I'll be honest. I'm not completely sure about the appeal of this one. Do children know who Gilbert and Sullivan are? Do they have any familiarity at all with any of their work? Have they heard of The Mikado? Of The Pirates of Penzance? Or any of their other works? Do they need to know? Maybe the book will serve as an introduction, of sorts. But would reading this book make you want to know more? Would it make you care? I'm not sure.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hi - great blog! I found it while googling this book. I'm not sure what the appeal is to children either but can tell you that after one reading (at school), my first grader is completely enamored and will get getting it for Christmas. Go figure!