A new series on music has been released by ABRSM Publishing. Written by Olivier Baumont and narrated by Michael Cantwell, The First Discovery - Music book on Antonio Vivaldi is supposed to be aimed at young children. There are some problems, however, with this book and CD as a beginner's book.
The First Discovery - Music series was originally written in Italian, and it has been translated into English in the U.K. Unfortunately, the translation is not especially kid friendly for U.S. children. The writing is a bit stiff and there are quite a few complex sentences with inverted clauses that make this a difficult read for a younger student. In addition, there are a few words that use the British spelling, such as neighbourhood, instead of neighborhood, which may further the challenge for young readers. The publishers would have been wise to spend a little money with a skilled copywriter who could have rewritten the book at an appropriate age level.
Another thing the publishers would have been wise to pay attention to is the book design in this project. Although they hired a whimsical illustrator, Charlotte Voake, I'm not sure if anyone had the official job of book designer. Vivaldi is actually laid out reasonably for an advanced elementary reader, but not a beginner. Even with that assessment, the layout is still a bit choppy and awkward, giving the appearance of a book designed by someone who has not been formally trained in the task.
With all that said, the CD that comes with the book is actually quite pleasant to listen to. The narrator is British, and is therefore able to glide his way through the somewhat stilted writing. His narration of the text of the book is supported throughout by music written by Antonio Vivaldi. Hearing his relaxed British accent reciting the story of Vivaldi's life as we hear the beautiful creations written by Antonio Vivaldi during his life, is a rather pleasant way to spend some time in the afternoon with a cup of tea in your hand and your youngest child in your lap.