Perfect Picture Book Friday: BEFORE MUSIC Plus Giveaway

What makes a perfect picture book? It’s probably a different set of parameters for each person…but for me, it’s a book that is entertaining, engaging, and educational…a book that provides information and inspiration to the child reader. And a book with awesome pictures! Today’s feature, BEFORE MUSIC, checks all those boxes!!! The illustrations are glorious (I can’t imagine how much research the artist, Madison Safer had to do) and the text gives us a world view of instruments and the people who play them (ditto on the research that author Annette Bay Pimentel ‘conducted’ in order to write this book!)

BEFORE MUSIC: Where Instruments Come From

Written by Annette Bay Pimentel

Illustrated by Madison Safer

Published by Abrams Books

Ages: 8-12

Themes: Musical instruments, musicians, diversity

Synopsis: From Amazon:
From award-winning author Annette Bay Pimentel and talented illustrator Madison Safer comes an oversize nonfiction picture book exploring how music and musical instruments are made—across time and around the world

Music doesn’t come out of nothing.
It always starts somewhere . . .
with something . . .
with someone.

Discover how music is made in this survey of musical instruments from around the world. Organized by material—from wood to gourds to found objects and more—Before Music marries a lyrical core text with tons of informational material for curious readers.

In the narrative text, readers will encounter makers as they source their materials and craft instruments by hand, drawing the line from the natural world to the finished product and its sound. The sidebars offer much more to discover, including extensive instrument lists, short bios of musical innovators, and more.

Why I Love This Book:
1. I love books that teach me something I don’t know in a way that doesn’t feel like a lesson. There is so much information about musical instruments and where they came from and who made them! But Annette’s text is so engaging and interesting.
2. I love books filled with glorious illustrations and this one is chockful of them – kids will be fascinated to find out about instruments they probably never heard of.
3. I love books that showcase diversity and inclusion…and this one does, in both the text and the illustrations!

This book launched in June of this year…and just like all new books, this one needs our help to become the success it deserves to be. How can we help? We can buy the book, review the book, tell friends about the book, and ask our local library to purchase copies for their collection.

And because I know how much we all LOVE to hear about the path to publication of new books, I asked Annette if she’d share a bit with us.

ANNETTE: This very hefty book started out as 189 word picture book text with back matter but after she read my initial submission, my editor, Courtney Code, suggested that we flip things and make the back matter the main text. Working together, she and I figured out how to weave the original text throughout the book. Even as we were restructuring the book we knew it would only work if the book designer could figure out how to signal how each page worked. The book design team stepped up and created a beautiful visual framework. Working cooperatively with so many people to create an innovative text structure was one of the most satisfying writing experiences I’ve had.

Here’s a little bit about the author:
Annette Bay Pimentel grew up mostly in Utah in a large, boisterous family. She graduated from University of California Berkeley and did graduate work at Brandeis University in English literature. She and her husband raised six children while moving often—eight states, four countries, and three continents. Recently they settled in northern Idaho and recycled the moving boxes. All of their children have now flown the coop.

Annette’s books are often on states’ young reader’s lists and have been Junior Library Guild Selections. All the Way to the Top won a Schneider Honor from the American Library Association. Pura’s Cuentos won the Goddard/Riverside Social Justice Award. Mountain Chef won the Carter G. Woodson Award. She is represented by Kathleen Rushall of Andrea Brown Literary. In addition to writing, Annette teaches nonfiction writing for McDaniel College and is an elected Trustee for her county library.

To find out more about Annette and to connect with her:
Twitter @Annette Pimentel

And here’s a little bit about the illustrator:
Madison Safer (she/her) is an illustrator who is happiest in a forest full of mushrooms. Her work is often centered around themes of nostalgia, home, and the quiet woods of New England. She is inspired by Russian folk art, Jewish paper cuttings, quilt patterns, and the warmth of a fire after a very cold day. After receiving her BFA in illustration studies from Montserrat College of Art, she currently resides in the sleepy hills of New Hampshire. When she is not napping or drawing, Madison is best found drinking tea, practicing her challah braid, or stealing flowers.
To find out more about Madison or connect with her: 
Twitter: @madison_safer


Photo courtesy:

How about making some musical instruments with your kids? I’ve done this when I taught kindergarten and also in my home daycare when my own children were growing up and I provided a preschool program for teachers’ children. This wonderful website has detailed instructions – many of them are simple to make with the kiddos – and even more fun to use:

And don’t forget, there is a giveaway! Please leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of BEFORE MUSIC. Maybe you can tell us if you played an instrument when you were a kid. I took a year of piano lessons…and LOVED it…but then we moved and the teacher wasn’t willing to travel by train and bus from Manhattan to Brooklyn for $5, which was all my mother could afford to give him. But I continued playing and when I started my daycare, I knew I’d want a piano so that I could play and sing with the little ones. I saved my first earnings…and when I had enough, I bought a used piano…which is a whole other story for another time. And that piano? I still have it!
I’m so glad you stopped by today…and I hope you are, too! Have a beautiful weekend, everybody…Happy Labor Day!!!

38 thoughts on “Perfect Picture Book Friday: BEFORE MUSIC Plus Giveaway

  1. Pingback: Perfect Picture Book Thứ Sáu: TRƯỚC MUSIC Plus Giveaway - Ngon Giấc

  2. As a musician and mom of a musician, I can’t wait to read this book and learn more about other instruments. I currently play the flute and my daughter plays the oboe.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “…it’s a book that is entertaining, engaging, and educational…a book that provides information and inspiration to the child reader. And a book with awesome pictures!” I am a huge fan of your work, Annette, and we can tell from this review that Vivian is also. MOUNTAIN CHEF is wonderful! Requesting the purchase of your latest from our library.
    I love music, but, alas, my parents invested poorly when they paid a very convincing salesman of musical instruments for my accordion lessons.
    Best wishes,

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ohhhh, this is SUPER COOL! My music-loving family will love this book. I took 12 years of piano lessons as a kid but have forgotten so much of it. And my last 4 years were with an elderly teacher who was starting to forget things. I didn’t learn too much new piano with her, but oh, I loved her…and was basically going to those lessons just to hear the stories of her life. We didn’t play much piano. But I’d get her talking and just enjoy listening. This past week I started taking lessons again! My kids are starting and I decided I want to refresh my memory and play again. So this book is coming out at the perfect time for us.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This looks so gorgeous! I’m a fan of musical instruments, and music in general. What an interesting request from an editor to flip all of the back matter forward and weave in the narrative thread. Can’t wait to take a peek! I’ll be adding this to my TBR list.


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