Thursday, June 12, 2014

In the Hall of the Mountain King

In the Hall of the Mountain King
Adapted from Henrik Ibsen
Author: Allison Flannery
Illustrator:Vesper Stamper
Music by Edvard Grieg
Samizdat Publishing Group
Golden, Colorado
ISBN 978-1-938633-13-3
$ 22.00
32 pages

The Peer Gynt Suite by Edvard Grieg is frequently one of the first recognizable favorite of many children.   Grieg perfectly wrote the music to a tale written by Henrik Ibsen featuring a beautiful woman, a handsome and brave man, and terribly horrible monstrous creatures who captured the woman.   As the brave hero approaches the prison within the mountain, the listener can easily imagine the battle especially with the tune "In the Hall of the Mountain King".
Like many fairy tales including the original tales by the Brothers' Grimm, the story was not written for small children or for those who do not enjoy graphically violent episodes.  Surprisingly though, Grieg's The Peer Gynt Suite does not only contain the few selections that are well-known, but twenty-six separate musical pieces for the entire Suite.
 In Allison Flannery's version In the Hall of the Mountain King. the main character Peer is an adventurous boy who just explores further and further each day until he discovers a castle.  Curiosity makes him completely unaware of the possible dangers and consequences.  
This particular version of the fairy tale is safe and enjoyable for young children while also recognizing the perils of exploring too far while still perfectly matching the action with the illustrations and the music.   The vocabulary is appropriate for children in the 3-9 year old range.   The illustrations are colorful, recognizable, and perfectly matching the story.   Even the words are moved to coincide with the action.
Also noticeable is the attention to the setting.   The illustrations wonderfully envision Norway of many years ago featuring a house with flowers growing on the roof as well as the mountains and waterways so common in this country.
The recording of Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite  is excellent.  However, no credit is given to the orchestra who recorded this arrangement. 
When examining the illustrations, there is a character spying on Peer as he plays and climbs trees.   Who or what is this creature? What is their place in the story?
The author, Allison Flannery teaches primary students music in Colorado Springs, Colorado.    Vesper Stemper is a graduate of Parsons School of Design.  She now designs for a variety of clients as well as playing in a band.
In the Hall of the Mountain King is a wonderfully descriptive story that can be enjoyed by children of all ages uniquely including the music as an integral part of the story.

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