Once Upon a Tune: Stories from the Orchestra

Publisher: Otter-Barry Books

Classical music often tells a story, and James Mayhew has retold and illustrated six of the most exciting ones in this wonderful volume.

In The Hall of the Mountain King children can marvel at the story of Peer Gynt, a boy who finds himself at the mercy of the Troll King when he accidentally offers to marry his daughter; in Scheherazade, they can follow the famous travels of Sinbad the Sailor; and in The Flight of the Bumblebee, learn the story of a Tsarina’s son who turns himself into a bee to find out the truth behind his unfair banishment.

Mayhew’s artwork in this book of traditional tales from a variety of countries uses collage and printing to remarkable effect, creating wonderful spreads and effects full of mystery and colour. Reminiscent of Jan Pienkowski’s collage and paper cutting effects in books like The Glass Mountain and The Thousand Nights and One Night, Mayhew’s tales are also brilliantly accessible quick reads, perfect for bedtime, school story times and any time when a magical story is needed.

It’s actually fascinating to learn the stories behind these well-known pieces of music, and if you don’t recognise their titles, you are very likely to recognise the tunes if you look them up as they’re used so frequently in TV and film (and even adverts).

A really gorgeous book which would be a wonderful gift or addition to your bookshelf.

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