Saturday, December 14, 2013

In the Hall of the Mountain King by Allison Flannery

In the Hall of the Mountain King by Allison Flannery, illustrated by Vesper Stamper
Samizdat Publishing Group
ISBN: 978-1938633133
Published April 2013
Hardcover, 34 pages

In the Hall of the Mountain King is an interactive children’s book that comes with a CD that includes 5 classical songs from composer Edvard Grieg, a Norwegian musician born in 1843. The title of this book is also the name of this composer’s famous musical piece. I read the story with my son as we listened to the music and it quickly became clear to me that I had definitely heard this classical piece before many times. I even remember it from my own childhood since it was sometimes part of the cartoons I used to watch on Saturday mornings. Remember those?

The story is about a boy named Peer who lives on the forest’s edge by the sea in Norway. Peer loves to go exploring and he is adventurous. One day he ends up on the other side of the forest where he discovers a castle. Since Peer had heard stories of a mysterious mountain king, he decides to sneak into the castle past the king’s minions. He is entranced by the castle and he has fun exploring until he bumps into the mountain king himself and becomes so afraid of being imprisoned for trespassing that he runs for his life and is chased until he escapes. The mischievous daughter of the king appears almost on every page and my son quickly noticed how she may even have purposely had Peer discovered by her father. The sly girl!

The music, of course, goes very well with this story and I could see how little kids could re-enact Peer’s story as he goes about exploring and then running to escape the mountain king. The music is lively with a great staccato rhythm that builds in intensity, perfect to get little bodies moving and dancing. The illustrations in watercolor are whimsical and playful.

As we listened to the music, my husband joined us and enjoyed it too. We then decided to do more research by looking up the info on the book’s cover that stated the story is based on the 1867 play by Peer Gynt by Henrik Ibsen. Our research led us to learn more about the composer and to discover various renditions of the song In the Hall of the Mountain King and other musical pieces by him. We also discovered David Garret a world-renowned, cool young violinist after we watched him perform this piece. We learned so much with this book!

You can also visit the author's website ( where you can download a free coloring sheet of the characters that can be cut and put on sticks to be used as puppets. This book is excellent to use for music appreciation for pre-k and young children in school or at home. The book even comes with instructions on how to use the book with the music CD. 

This adaptation of a Norway folklore by Allison Flannery is a wonderful way to get kids acquainted with--and also to form an appreciation for--beautiful classical music. It certainly did that for our family!

Note: This book is rated C = clean read.

About the author:
Allison Flannery is a Kindergarten music teacher who sings, dances, marches, and teaches seventeen classes of five to six-year-olds each week. With a background as a private piano instructor, she loves inspiring youngsters to listen and learn from some of the great classical composers. She lives in Colorado and when she isn’t teaching she loves to go on wonderful adventures with her husband, four children and dog. This is her first book.

About the illustrator:
Vesper Stamper spent most of her childhood meticulously copying each page of Hilary Knight’s Cinderella. She earned an honors degree in Illustration from Parsons School of Design, and in addition to her visual work, is a recording artist in the band Ben + Vesper. She lives in Jersey City, NJ with her husband, filmmaker Ben Stamper, and her two fairy children.

Reviewed by Laura & Son 

Disclosure: Thanks to the author for sending us this book for review. We were not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

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