Music Book Review: Where Are All The Instruments?: West Africa

This month’s Music Book Review is Where Are All The Instruments?: West Africa. This book is part of a series of books about the Why Squad written by musician, author and music education blogger Nathan Holder and illustrated by Charity Russell.

The front cover of the book that is the subject of this review. It is a red book and you can see the children from the Why Squad enjoying playing musical instruments from West Africa in front of a statue of the African Renaissance Monument.

The Why Squad are a group of children who love their music classes, and finding out as much as they can about music. We have seen them before on this blog when they were extremely helpful to the Jumo Orchestra when they lost their instruments in Music Book Review: Where Are All The Instruments

In Where Are All The Instruments?: West Africa the Why Squad are in music class and their teacher suggests that they will spend the lesson learning about African drumming. As the Why Squad point out, Africa is a really big continent with many different countries and, indeed, many different instruments. So they set off, through the magic of a children’s book on an adventure to visit different countries in Africa and finding out more about an instrument that comes from each of those countries. Again through the magic of a children’s book, they are back in time for the end of the lesson and they brought all the instruments back with them!

An illustration of children sat behind their desks in music class. Their teacher is at the front of the class and the children are listening happily

Just like the European Orchestra book mentioned above, this is perfectly pitched for younger readers, so while there is not a lot of information on each page, it is just enough to capture the interest of small children before moving on. Nathan Holder is an expert in children’s music education and how to teach children about music in an engaging and fun way. For each of the countries the Why Squad visit, they find an instrument and talk a little about the type of sound that the instrument makes. It has prompted us, after reading the book, to look up the instruments and try to hear them being played.

When you get to the end of the book there is a double-page spread showing you all of the instruments talked about in the book, and giving you the correct pronunciation for each instrument. There is a little bit of geographical information about Africa and then right at the end the reader is set a challenge to find certain things that have been hidden in the book. I have to say, I completely missed all but one of the hidden items on the first read through and we enjoyed trying to spot them – my 5 year old loved finding these hidden items, and it was a perfect way to get us to read the book again!

Illustrations of some of the instruments found in this book together with their names.

At the time of writing this book, which has only been out for a few weeks, was priced at £8.99 on Amazon. Amazon suggests the book is for children aged 4-10 years old. As always, you know your child, what they are interested in and their reading ability best. I would say that, yes the book is suitable for children over 4, and certainly it would introduce slightly older children to instruments they may well not have heard of before, but I would suggest that the book is for younger readers, and probably 4 to 6 or 7 year olds.

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!!

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