Resource Review: “The Story of Music in Cartoon”

Piano Teacher in Downtown Toronto

Resource Review: “The Story of Music in Cartoon”

The Story of Music in Cartoon - Bernard Deyries and Denys Lémery

Title: “The Story of Music in Cartoon”

Authors and Illustrators: Bernard Deyries and Denys Lémery

English translator: Michael Sadler

Language: English (originally in French)

Publisher: Arco Publishing Inc.

Publication date: 1983

ISBN number: 0-668-05592-8

Number of pages: 144

Type of resource: Hardcover book, Graphic Novel

Where to find it: Amazon, Used bookstores

Age: 9-16

Themes: Music History, Composers


Publisher’s Synopsis:

In vivid color, this history of music presents the salient moments of one of mankind’s most exalting ventures. The first use of simple work songs, the severity of the Gregorian chant and the carefree tunes of the minstrels, the polyphony of Medieval times and the great musical diversity of the Renaissance, the fruitfulness of Handel and the unmatched perfectionism of Beethoven, the patriotic impetus of Verdi and the touching lyricism of Puccini, the primordial rhythms of Stravinsky and the unorthodox, experimental compositions of Cage. These and other highlights of musical history are represented in striking cartoon drawings that amuse as well as inform. The protagonists of this history have not built skyscrapers or founded kingdoms. They have not crossed tempestuous oceans or boldly set foot on the moon. With much devotion, they have simply revealed to our minds and hearts the purest and most beautiful of universes.

My Thoughts:

This book is great for kids who love graphic novels or read quickly and are always clamoring for more books. At 144 pages, it will take some time to get through this book. The graphics are extremely colorful and full of details, which will also capture young readers’ attentions and have them coming back to re-read sections again and again.

The Story of Music in Cartoon - First Page

In terms of the periods of history it covers, the book starts from the very beginning of mankind’s existence and finishes in the 21st century with John Cage, tracing the development of Western music. It explores the lives of composers, significant historical events that influenced the progress of music, names a ton of pieces, and uses terms and musical vocabulary directly in the text. For the sheer amount of information that this book provides, it makes a good alternative reference book to your old fashioned encyclopedia or dictionary. It helps that there is an a five page Index at the back with fairly detailed listings of where to find any topic you deign to learn about.

The Story of Music in Cartoon - Publisher Page

I love the humor in this book! Early on, you can already spot the type of tongue and cheek wit that is in this book on the publication page. A great family treasure, for sure!

Other Notes:

Originally published in Belgium, this book has a blurb on the back that states that it enjoyed “a wide readership” and was translated into several other languages besides the original French version. At the moment, I don’t believe this book is in print anymore. However, I found my copy at a used book sale in Toronto. Chances are, if this book was as popular as claimed to be, you’ll find it at your local second hand bookstore too. Or there’s always Amazon.


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