DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links. This means that I may earn a small commission (at no cost to you) if you make a purchase using my link.
This month’s Music Book Review is When Step Met Skip by Vicky Weber and illustrated by Geneviève Viel-Taschereau. I have previously reviewed one of their books, Rhythm Rescue, which my daughter and I very much enjoyed, and you can read my review of that lovely book here. But for now, onto this month’s book.
Vicky Weber is a music teacher, teaching young children, and this is quite evident when you read her books. These books tell a story involving music, here about two characters Step and Skip, meeting each other and what happens when they do. Other books tell the story of someone learning to play a musical instrument, or having musically powered super powers! But behind the story, she is actually teaching concepts about music theory (and other valuable life lessons thrown into the bargain) in a fun and engaging way. Each page has a musical staff on it, a set of 5 black lines that musicians use to read and write music. Depending on where a note is placed on that staff – on one of the lines or in one of the spaces, the musician will play a different note. On the left hand side of most pages is a treble clef, a symbol that looks a bit like the ampersand sign – &. This is a symbol that helps to tell musicians what notes they should be playing – generally higher notes where the treble clef is concerned.
The story begins with Step, and we are told about Step liking to move around the staff taking one step at a time:
We are then introduced to Skip, and the book explains how Skip likes to move around the staff, as her name suggests, skip likes to bounce around the staff a bit, jumping from one note to another, and missing one or more line or space out as she does so.
Music works in the same way, sometimes a musical phrase will move from one note to the other stepping up and down smoothly, one note to the next. Sometimes a musical phrase will jump around a little more, skipping some notes and not others. An interesting piece of music will combine these two approaches.
As the book continues Skip tries to encourage Step to have a go at jumping from one space or line to another, the way she likes to move, and Step later gets Skip to move around the way he likes to. Eventually, Step and Skip move around in their own way on the staff, but at the same time. They discover that they can make beautiful music together when they move at the same time – here Weber is introducing the concept of musical harmony with the two characters playing different notes at the same time, and these notes sounding beautiful together.
Visually, I love the way that the book is largely in black and white with the exception of the characters Step and Skip, until they discover that they can sound in harmony with each other at which point, suddenly, the book is in full colour. It’s a bit like the moment in the Wizard of Oz where Dorothy comes out of her house into Munchkin Land for the first time. This is perhaps suggesting the fullness of sound that music, and how music can be full of colour and be more exciting when you have multiple lines of music at the same time.
I also liked that with Skip and Step both getting each other to move about the staff the way the other one likes to, Weber talked about how it can feel when you try something new, how nervous you can feel about it. And that after you try it out, that sometimes it is OK to decide to stick with doing what you know and are comfortable with. At least for the time being until the next time you want to try.
This is a lovely book. It is quite short, which is great for the attention spans of little children, with simple concepts introduced in an easy to understand and friendly way – the author knows her audience well. The illustrations are simple, perfectly suiting the story, and very cute. I love the characters, and could see them being made into cute toys to play with.
This is a book for young readers, whether you are reading it to them or they are reading it for themselves. Amazon suggests this is a book for 5-10 year olds. I am not sure I agree about that. I think a 5 or 6 year old would enjoy reading the book to themselves or with their caregivers, and certainly they are getting to the age when they are likely to understand the musical concepts they are being taught in this book, but I would not recommend it for children above the age of around 6, and would probably say it is a book for 4-6 year olds.
My little girl who has recently turned 5 enjoyed reading about Step and Skip, and I enjoyed reading it with her. This is a rather lovely book if you and your little ones like music.
At the time of writing, this When Step Met Skip was available on Amazon priced at £9.58, and if you are interested in getting it you could click on the picture below which will take you straight to the book on Amazon. This is an affiliate link, so I should tell you that if you do choose to buy the book using the link below, then I may earn a small commission on the sale of the book, at no cost to you.
If you have enjoyed reading my blog post, thank you. I am always looking for ideas for the blog, so would love to hear from you with suggestions for topics you would like me to cover in the future. Also, if you would be interested in supporting me to keep this blog running, buying the books to review here, and supplies to make the DIY instruments, for example, I would be absolutely delighted if you would consider buying me a coffee using the following link: Buy Me A Coffee Thank you!!