Written by: Laura Krauss Melmed
Illustrated by: Ed Young
Published in 1993
Genre: Picture Book
Grade Level: PreK-1
Summary: Set in Ancient Japan, this book is about a little boy who wants to know what the first song ever sung was. He goes around and asks the people and animals he knows, with each giving a different response. Each response shows the things that the person (or animal) views as being truly important.
I wasn’t in love with this book. The lyrical text was cute, but I found it to be somewhat boring. The illustrations were pretty, but not always clear.
I did enjoy the way the author showed how different things are seen as important and beautiful to different people. For the father, strength and friends are important. For the grandmother, spinning and weaving are important. For the fish, ripples and pebbles are important. For the mother, children and love are important. This is a great message for children to learn.
The illustrations in this book were a problem for me. While I loved some of them (the one of the girls jumping rope was my favorite), I felt like the majority of them were a jumbled mess. The style used by Ed Young didn’t have clear lines, which made some pages hard to understand. In particular, the page with the dogs howling at the moon looked like a bunch of colored blobs to me until I really looked at it closely. The fish page also stood out to me as it just looked like streaks of blue and green.
Final Thoughts: While I didn’t personally enjoy this book very much, I do think young children would like it. I might use it as a read aloud someday if I am teaching in the primary grades.
I give The First Song Ever Sung three stars.