Inspired by the sounds and rhythms of the West African rainforest, Dylan Pritchett weaves a tale that reveals the music we all have inside us.
Elephant stubs his toe on a log, creating a booming noise and initiates what might be considered the first jam session. Monkey begins to dance, Crane plays Crocodile’s scales, until every animal in the forest joins in on the harmonious beat. Finally, King Frog explains that frogs can do nothing except watch and listen due to their short arms. However, after the music ceases on the seventh day, the frogs find their collective voice and begin the song all over again. Each animal contributes his/her unique sound to complete this symphony of the forest.
Rhythm and energy come through every page with Pritchett’s lyrical prose and illustrator, Erin Bennett Banks’ bold oil paintings. Banks' vibrant illustrations capture the rich bio-diversity of the African vegetation and the unique personalities of its inhabitants. The illustrations also bring this cumulative tale to a satisfying crescendo.
See an animated video of the book.
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As the past president of the National Association of Black Storytellers, Dylan Pritchett is dedicated to passing on the rich African oral tradition of storytelling. In his Author’s Note, Pritchett explains, “Africa enthralls me. My curiosity about its culture took me there; the people, music, and feeling of being home keep me there. When I returned from my first trip, storytelling was no longer something to do from head to mouth, but rather an art form filled with heartfelt purpose to teach children of all ages.”
Dylan Pritchett shares his folktales with thousands of children and adults across the country with more than 200 performances a year. Dylan was one of a handful of artists selected to participate in the John F. Kennedy Center's Performing Arts Partners in Education touring program. He has been working with the Kennedy Center for many years, performing and leading workshops for teachers to guide them on how to integrate the power of storytelling in their classrooms.
The First Music encourages reader interaction; kids will want to sing and dance along with the animals. More importantly, the story teaches kids that everyone, no matter how small or large, has their own set of talent that makes them unique, and coming together to combine each individual’s skills creates joyous and infectious music.