Once Upon a Rhythm: The Story of Music

From the hums and stomps of African music to the strings of the classical orchestra and booms of speakers at rock and roll gigs, Once Upon a Rhythm traces the history of music through time and across nations. Most fittingly, James Cartee chooses rhyme to tell this musical tale, and makes of this picturebook a poetic ode to music, as an art, impulse, instrument of communication and most of all, joyful way of life. Onomatopoeia punctuate the text and make sure to keep the reading experience full of surprising notes.

Valerio Vidali’s illustrations perfectly complement Carter’s text: each page offers new colours, dynamic patterns and shapes, and tells its own story – or rather song, a part of the bigger story of music. Notes dance across the spreads, varied font sizes and shades create visual rhythm and vibrant primary colours give tempo to the reading experience.

This picturebook is not only informative – as it describes a variety of musical genres, traces briefly their origins and hints playfully at different artists (can you spot David Bowie? Aretha Franklin? Dolly Parton?) – it is also inspiring in the way it invites the reader to find music in language and everyday life. A perfect ending to this enchanting non-fiction poem, the last page of the book playfully sums-up the important points encountered with an acrostic of the word ‘rhythm’. One for all aspiring musicians aged 0-4, 5-8.

Book Cover - Once Upon a Rhythm
Publication Date
August 2019
Raon aoise