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The Really Awful Musicians



Last updated Monday, March 5, 2012

Author: John Manders
Illustrator: John Manders
Date of Publication: 2011
ISBN: 0547328206
Grade Level: 2nd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Mar. 2012

Synopsis: A wacky tall tale about how musicians first learned to play together. All the musicians in the kingdom are so awful that the king sends his men-at-arms to round up musicians and feed them to the royal crocodiles. Pipe and drum player Piffaro heads for the border, collecting other refugee musicians on the way. Their jam session on the road is so bad that the horse pulling the wagon figures out a way to make them all play the same music at the same time—a system of lines and hoofprints. (In fact, there was a time before musical notation was devised, but that’s the only part of this story that is true!)

Note to readers:
•  This book has a lot of funny noises. Have fun reading them and encourage the kids to help make the noises that the instruments make.
•  The instruments are also pictured and described on the last page.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Can you play a musical instrument?
•  Do you know any one who can?
•  Have you ever seen more than one person play a musical instrument at the same time? (band, musical group, orchestra)

Vocabulary
•  Mime: A performer who doesn’t use words to express something
•  Vaulted: Jumped
•  Sackbut: A trombone
•  Leagues: A unit of length (about 3 miles)
•  Gadzooks: An expression of surprise
•  Dray horse: A horse that pulls a wagon

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Why is important to play musical instruments ‘together’ rather than just playing different musical instruments at the same time? Is this true for other things? What about sports like soccer and baseball?

Craft ideas:
•  Popsicle stick kazoos (see sample included with the books) [GLCs: request these materials from the R2K office.]
•  Have the students decorates two popsicle sticks. Cut four strips of construction paper about the length of your index finger and a bit wider than the width of the popsicle stick. Place the popsicle sticks on top of each other and wrap a piece of the construction paper around each end of the popsicle sticks (use tape to keep the construction paper wrapped). Wrap the last two pieces of construction paper over the two pieces on the popsicle sticks. Slide one popsicle stick out. Take a rubber band and wrap in length-wise around the popsicle stick with the construction paper on it. Place the popsicle sticks on top of each other and wrap each end with rubber bands. Blow in the center on your kazoo to make music.

Special activities:
•  Give each kid a sound to make and have them act them out together. Then ‘conduct’ them to see if you can make it sound better.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!