Saturday, November 16, 2013

In The Hall of the Mountain King by Allison Flannery Illustrated by Vesper Stamper

Written by: Allison Flannery Illustrated by: Vesper Stamper
Published: April 2013 Ages: 4-9

What we thought of In the Hall of the Mountain King:

Dane: I thought it was adventurous and it went to different scenes that had cool animals. I liked the pictures and the music that came with the book. Peer was curious and kind of naughty. I'd recommend to my friends.

Mama Anna: I really enjoyed reading this book with Dane. Hunter said she was too old to read with us, she is 11. We read the book without the CD the first time. We read it later again with the CD and it fits in perfectly with Peer's actions. The illustrations are fun and full of color. They draw the reader in to the scene. We stopped several times to look at the pictures instead of reading. 

I would highly recommend this as a read at home or even in the classroom! It is a wonderful adaptation from Henrik Ibsen and it really gets the reader engaged with the story! Also, the website is full of fun accompaniments to the story! 
5stars from Dane and I! 
*We did receive a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

A Q and A session with Ms. Allison Flannery:

Tell us a bit about your book and where it’s available:
In the Hall of the Mountain King is a picture book that loosely follows the story line from Norwegian playwright Henrik Isben’s Peer Gynt written in the 1860's. I modified it into a kid-friendly story of a young boy on an adventure, which ends in the mysterious Mountain King’s castle. The story’s action mirrors the music that Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg wrote for this scene of the play. I include directions in the book on how to make story and music an interactive experience for children that helps them learn about musical dynamics in a fun way.

It is available through my website and through Amazon.

What was the inspiration for your book?
I was asked to write this book by one of my Kindergarten students two years ago. Five year olds really believe anything is possible and he was no exception. I had told this story orally to my classes, and he kept insisting to see the "book that goes with that story." At that time, there was no book, but because of his persistence, I started the process that led to the book getting published. It is dedicated to that student!

What was your aim for this book? What did you want readers to think and feel when reading it?

I wanted my students to appreciate and enjoy classical music—to notice its movement and variations—and, for this piece, to visualize the action mirrored by the sounds. As a teacher it is my aim to make learning fun as well as to impart beauty, truth, and goodness in my teaching. I hope that readers will enjoy the story and the music and be inspired by its power and beauty. I love engaging young readers with whole body movement and to try to make the music come alive for children physically as well as emotionally. Through it all, I hope they will gain appreciation for the great composers and writers that left of these classic works of art and not overlook them as "boring."

Do you have any other books currently available?
No, this is my first book.

What will you be working on next?
I would like to write stories based on other scenes from the Peer Gynt play, based on other pieces by Edvard Grieg. There are several interesting possibilities, so I am not sure where I will go next, but it will likely be a story that accompanies one of the other pieces on the CD included with my current book.

How did you originally get into writing?
I have always been an avid reader, staring in my elementary school years. Books were my best friends. I think writing is just an extension of reading. I feel privileged to have gotten to write this book.

What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

I really still don't consider myself a writer. I am more of a discoverer. I discovered this book more than I wrote it.

What do you find hardest about being a writer?
Writing a picture book is challenging because most of my words in the original manuscript ended up on the cutting room floor. The illustrator did such an amazing job of saying what I wanted with the illustrations that my editor and I deleted much of what I had originally written. But I do miss some of those words!

Who or what would you count as your main influence?
My mother and my paternal grandmother. My mother read to me constantly in my early childhood. My grandmother always sang to me and took me on long walks on the family farm where I grew up. I think the combination of these two women created a love of the written word and the beauty of adventure in nature. I am grateful to have had them shape my life in such profound ways.

What do you enjoy reading?

I love reading biographies and learning about people – how they think, what drives them to be successful, why they make the choices they do, and how that influences them and the world around them. I also love children’s books. They were and still are such a big part of my own children’s lives. Some of our most precious times have been reading and entering in to stories together. There are books that I’ve read over and over to each of my children or whole series that I’ve read to each of my daughters at certain ages that very special to me—and to them to.

Who is your favorite author?
Laura Ingalls Wilder. I read all of her books 13 times by the time I was in the fifth grade. Her books are one of the series I referred to above that I’ve read to each of my daughters as well. They let you experience a different world and a different time, while helping to instill values that are as relevant today as ever.

What would be your ideal writer’s haven for creating your book? Would you have a desk in a quiet cabin somewhere or an iPad on the beach?

Probably a classroom full of kindergarteners. I would love to have a whole day with them to hear their ideas, listen to great music, and interact with their responses to it. They are so uninhibited by the world around them and see life so purely. They would give me great ideas and inspire me to make them happen!

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