cover image The Remarkable Farkle McBride

The Remarkable Farkle McBride

John Lithgow. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, $17.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-689-83340-3

No stranger to music (he released a CD for children titled ""Singin' in the Bathtub""), actor Lithgow pens a romp of a tale about a prodigy whose quest for the perfect instrument leads him through virtually every section of the orchestra. ""When Farkle McBride was a three-year-old tyke,/ All freckle-y, bony, and thin,/ He astonished his friends and his family alike/ By playing superb violin."" After his debut, the easily dissatisfied diminutive genius trades in his fiddle for a flute (""He went Rootle-ee/ Tootle-ee/ Tootle-ee Too/ With all of the winds at his side""), then a trombone and subsequently percussion, all to no avail. Not until he steps in for an ill conductor does he finds his niche; a gatefold spread shows him (""satisfied!"") in front of ""all the instruments he ever tried."" Lithgow's nimble verse with a limerick's beat sparkles as he introduces readers to the various instruments and their sounds. Payne's outrageously droll mixed media illustrations, with their blend of caricature and realism, recall Kathryn Hewitt's work in Lives of the Musicians. Although Farkle is remarkably difficult to please, his tale may well strike a chord with anyone who's ever made overtures at musicianship. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)