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31 December 2011 KALI'S SONG by Jeanette Winter, Schwartz & Wade, March 2012, 40p., ISBN: 978-0-375-87022-4


."All we need is music, sweet music

There'll be music everywhere"

-- Marvin Gaye, Mickey Stevenson, Ivy Jo Hunter, "Dancing in the Streets"


One can so easily envision the events in KALI'S SONG really happening. Heck, I can imagine being in Kali's position and having it happen to me: A young boy in cave dwelling times, out practicing with his bow and arrow as dictated by Dad (the manly thing to be doing), accidentally discovers that by plucking the string on his bow, putting the bow to his lips, and opening his mouth to varying degrees, he can create new and memorable sounds..Kali, who clearly does not have that drive to kill, instead becomes immersed in his new avocation.


So, then, what happens when it comes time for Kali's first hunt as one of the men?


"Kali ran to a hilltop for a closer look.

When he saw the magnificent herd below him,

he forgot about the hunt,

and he forgot about the other hunters.

He just heard the music of his bowstring in his head.


"Kali laid his arrows on the grass,

put the bow to his mouth,

closed his  eyes,

and played, and played, and played.


"When Kali opened his eyes,

the mammoths were close enough to touch.

They had heard the sounds from his bow

and had come to listen."


And so it is that Kali, charmer of wooly mammoths and woodland creatures, grows up to occupy a revered position in his tribe.


There are so many things to love about KALI'S SONG.  It is true that mouth harps do go back thousands of years, so there is a history lesson here. There is the notion of music being a higher calling than -- and antidote for -- violence. (This theme is what also makes David McPhail's MOLE MUSIC such a beloved and lasting favorite of mine.) .And then there is the art.  I cannot imagine the primitive style Jeanette Winter employs in her picture book illustrating as being more perfectly suited for a story. This is exceptional visual storytelling that is perfect for the intended audience. The mammoths are both so immense and so huggable. There are so many memorable images such as when Kali is sitting under a blanket of stars playing, surrounded by woodland creatures; or when he is looking out from his family's cave-painted cave toward the manly cave dudes all gathering for the big hunt.


"Music is what we like to play
all day all day all day all day all day
to soothe your soul, yeah
lets have a picnic go to the park
rolling in the grass 'til long after dark
to soothe you soul, yeah"

-- War, "All Day Music"


KALI'S SONG makes me just want to go play music all day.


Richie Partington, MLIS
Richie's Picks http://richiespicks.com
Moderator http://groups.yahoo.com/group/middle_school_lit/

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