Carnival of the Animals

We have been working through The Gift of Music by Jan Stuart Smith and Betty Carlson this year for homeschool when Camille Saint-Saens came up.  I’ve personally never heard of this guy (like quite a few other composers from this book).

We always get a sample of their music from the library and if we’re lucky a biography for kids or two.

Well, during an online search of my local library, I found a gem of a book entitled Carnival of the Animals put together by Barrie Carson Turner, which illustrates this classic tale and has an accompanying CD.

The Carnival of Animals is Saint-Saens most famous work and it was written when his students asked him to compose a musical joke for them.  Saint-Saens matches animals such as the kangaroo, lion, roosters, mules, and tortoises to music beautifully as they parade through a carnival.  The total time of the composition is only 23 minutes with only about 2-4 minutes for each animal, which is perfect listening time for a child.

Many times I get musical compositions from the library and they are long and tedious. Not so here.  With the textbook to explain to children what the composer is trying to accomplish, why the author chose a particular instrument to play a certain part, and pictures to delight this book is sure to introduce children to the wonderful world of classical music and spawn a desire to learn more.

2 thoughts on “Carnival of the Animals

  1. What a wonderful book! I also used this book when I homeschooled my older child many years ago. I’m glad to know you’re including all the of the fine arts in your curriculum!

  2. I just wanted to say that I just sat in on the recording sessions with the London Philharmonic Orchestra’s new recording of Carnival of the Animals for the Maestro Classics Stories in Music series. ( They will be released with the fabulous Odgen Nash verses that include great lines like:
    “Elephants are useful friends, equipped with handles at both ends. They have a wrinkled, mothproof hide, their teeth are upside down, outside.”
    Saint-Saens is a genius of a composer and this is a work that every child should know. In the meantime, go to Maestro Classics website to listen to some of the fabulous quality of their work.

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