Title: The Book About Tony Chestnut
Author: Laurie Monopoli
Rating: Must Read!
Publisher: Hug-A-Chug Books
Web Page: www.learningstationmusic.com
Reviewed by: Eric Jones
We just had Easter Sunday at my girlfriend's family's house (my family has no little kids, hence no eggs to hunt) and it was the first real place for me to test out Lauri Monopoli's children's book, "The Book About Tony Chestnut". You see, unlike most children's books, this one doesn't work on the same level with a single child as it does with a group, and the reason for this is that it has a soundtrack!
The Monopolis' (Laurie and Don, book writer and songwriter. I'm assuming they share a family relationship) both have scores of teaching, singing, and child education experiences under their belt. I used to teach writing to eighth graders, so I know the kind of role you have to assume around children. The Monopolis' seem to have inhabited that role for a long time, and I wanted to try out their book and song before an audience.
The story in "The Book About Tony Chestnut" is really as innocuous as children playing on a playground. Tony and his sister, Eileen, have just moved in from out of town and are nervous about meeting new kids. It's a standard conflict that children will instantly relate to. What is not standard is Tony's answer to the situation. A dance number!
A dance number in a children's book isn't quite as radical as it may seem, but the way it's done is ingenious. Almost in comic book form, different segments of the page represent different motions of Tony's dance and song. After the initial dance instruction, the pages are cut short so that they become a kind of flap book, with each page going to the next child on the playground. The message is clear without having to be explained. You can do this with your children.
And kids love it! After an initial reading and demonstration (you have to have the nerve to be silly around kids), pop the CD in and act out the entire dance. The name, Tony Chestnut, serves as a simple mnemonic device that kids will pick up instantly. "Toe", "Knee", "Chest", "Nut" (your crazy head). I even had a particularly active child play the part of Tony, and he had his sister pretend to cry so that he could cheer her up. I felt like I was introducing the kids to dramatic structure as well as singing and dancing. This book is a must have for anyone with more than one child in the household. It's fun, exciting, daring, and you'll want to do it over and over again.
Go Back read another review, or choose a different category.