Review: Music Everywhere! by Maya Ajmera, Elise Hofer Derstine and Cynthia Pon


Music Everywhere! by Maya Ajmera, Elise Hofer Derstine and Cynthia Pon (A Global Fund for Children Book, Charlesbridge, 2014)


Music Everywhere!
by Maya Ajmera, Elise Hofer Derstine and Cynthia Pon
(A Global Fund for Children Book, Charlesbridge, 2014)


Music is one of the world’s great unifiers and even if the accoutrements (the instruments, clothing or tonalities) are unfamiliar, the emotions evoked in both performing and listening are universal. So Music Everywhere! is a wonderful and apposite addition to The Global Fund for Children’s series of photographic picture books overflowing with photographs of children from all over the world (Faith, Our Grandparents and What We Wear). It offers a joyous overview of children across the globe engaged with music: playing instruments, singing and dancing; learning and performing; alone and in ensembles.

The glorious photographs alone would be enough to provide an engaging window on the world for young readers – enormous horns in Bhutan; improvised instruments in Togo; Japanese children performing their joint composition; drumming during Carnival in Brazil; bagpipes in Scotland; steel drums in the US, to name but a few. Their impact is all the more effective because of their focus on children not adults – however, the simple but effective text that accompanies them takes the book to another level. The main narrative is inclusive, right from the initial ‘We love music!’, whilst the captions highlight the diversity of countries and performance/instrument details in each image. That first double-page spread alone features a young girl playing the clarinet in the UK; a children’s choir in Spain; a Hmong boy from Laos playing the queej ‘(pronounced gheng)’ while his friends listen; children ‘dancing to drumbeats’ in Ghana; and a boy blowing into a conch shell at a Cook Islands festival.

Young readers will be able to relate the text to their own experiences – the pervasiveness of music at home and at school, inside and outside and ‘even on the beach’ – whilst exploring new and extraordinary-looking musical instruments. There is also a gentle introduction to the notion of music as a healer in a difficult world: so one photograph features a bright-eyed, engaged girl with her violin teacher and the caption ‘Music lessons at a camp for Palestinian refugees’; and accompanying the world map in the back matter, a smiling, relaxed boy from Timor-Leste is ‘strumming a mandolin at Ba Futuru, an organization that uses music, drama, and dance to help communities heal from trauma.’

The back matter also includes ideas for children to make their own musical instruments and to respond to different kinds of music, as well as how to go about finding music in their local communities; and there is a glossary that brings together the different instruments and genres of music featured in the book.

Altogether, Music Everywhere! is a fantastic resource for young children to explore the world of music from a truly global perspective.

Marjorie Coughlan

January 2015


Visit The Global Fund for Children website.

Find out more about Ba Futuru; transforming the lives of vulnerable people in Timor-Leste.

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