I know that many of you are always on the lookout for quality literature to add to your classrooms. So, when Sherry Miller approached me a few weeks ago and asked if I would review her book Fireworks in the Night, I decided it would be a great fit!
Sherry is a music educator with a passion for bringing music to her students in fun and creative ways. Besides owning a music studio where she offers private lessons, she also runs a music program for daycare centers called Kidz Jump Jam n’ Jive, which has published a two-year music curriculum for daycare centers. Her book Fireworks in the Night was inspired by the animals on her horse farm where she lives. Sherry entrusted the artistic talents of John M. Tatulli to bring the story to life through his colorful illustrations.
Of course, no review is complete without the opinion of my two nephews, Jalin and Dillon. So, during their overnight stay last weekend, we read the book together. As Sherry wisely pointed out, the accompanying audio for the book truly makes the story come alive. So, I turned the pages of the book, while my nephews sat on the couch, listening to the audio and looking over the colorful illustrations. As you can see by the twinkle in Dillons’ eyes in the picture above, they thoroughly enjoyed themselves!
Fireworks in the Night is a story about a mischievous raccoon named Randy, who takes his barnyard friends along on a journey back in time, to the music of George Frederic Handel. During their adventures, we hear Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks and his Water Music. In addition, we are guided to listen for specific components of Handel’s music, such as the trumpets in the brass family. Action ensues during a case of mistaken identity and rogue fireworks, which leave Randy and his friends in a frantic race back home. They all return safely, and we’re left with a happy ending and the promise of future adventures to come.
After we were finished reading the book, I printed the following bookmarks, which are a free resource that Sherry offers on her website. When you sign up for a free audio download on the home page of Sherry’s website, you’ll be redirected to the page with the bookmark printables. I printed the bookmarks on cardstock, placed washi tape around the edges, then cut off the excess with some decorative edge scissors. To finish it off, I punched a hole at the top, threaded string through, and tied it off with a knot.
The boys colored their bookmarks. Luckily, my sister had sent along a huge pack of crayons for them to use, as I only had colored pencils and markers.
My nephews (ages 6 and 7) were in agreement with their review of the story and music. They liked both. In fact, they gave it a “two thumbs up”. Dillon thought the story was funny, “when Randy was going to fall off the horsie.” His favorite part was the song at the beginning Randy and the Rock a Note Band, “because it rhymes”.
From my adult perspective, I agree with my nephews. I think the audio truly makes the story come alive. Some of the character’s voices and reactions made me literally laugh out loud. Sherry’s introductory song Randy and the Rock a Note Band is catchy, and a great way to get students involved in the story (through clapping and stomping). My only concerns with the book are that so many new characters and plot points are introduced all at once. At times, it made the story feel a bit disjointed. My nephew had trouble keeping track of all the characters (as did I). However, by the end of the book I couldn’t help but grow a little attached to Randy and his loyal friends. The story, coupled with the supplemental resources on the website kidzjumpjamnjive, makes this an all-around high quality resource for the elementary music classroom.
Sherry informed me that she’s currently working on the second book in this series, and I’m looking forward to reading it right along with my nephews. If it’s anything like the first, I’m sure we’ll love it! If you haven’t already, you can check out all the supplemental resources and take a peak inside the book on Sherry’s website kidzjumpjamnjive. Also, if you’ve read this book, please share your thoughts in the comments section!