Brundibar by Tony Kushner
(New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Books (Awards))

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When Aninku and Pepicek discover one morning that their mother is sick, they rush to town for milk to make her better. Their attempt to earn money by singing is thwarted by a bullying, bellowing hurdy-gurdy grinder, Brundibar, who tyrannizes the town square and chases all other street musicians away. Befriended by three intelligent talking animals and three hundred helpful schoolkids, brother and sister sing for the money to buy the milk, defeat the bully, and triumphantly return home. Brundibar is based on a Czech opera for children that was performed fifty-five times by the children of Terezin, the Nazi concentration camp

About Tony Kushner

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Playwright Tony Kushner was born in New York City and raised in Louisiana. In addition to his plays, Kushner teaches at New York University and has co-written an opera with Bobby McFerrin. Kushner is best known for Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes, a two-part seven-hour play that has won many awards (two Tony Awards, a Pulitzer Prize, two Drama Desk Awards, the Evening Standard Award, the New York Critics Circle Award, and the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award). It was also selected one of the ten best plays of the 20th century by London's Royal National Theatre. Maurice Bernard Sendak was born on June 10, 1928 in Brooklyn, New York, the youngest of three children. His parents were Polish Jews who had come to the United States before the start of World War I. His first professional job as an illustrator (while he was still in high school) involved adapting the "Mutt and Jeff" newspaper comic strip to a comic book format. He later worked as a window-display director for New York's famous toy store, F.A.O. Schwartz, while attending night school at the Art Students League. In 1950, Ursula Nordstrom, children's book editor at Harper and Brothers, gave him his first chance to illustrate a children's book. His talents were soon in demand. He wrote his first book, Kenny's Window, in 1956 and went on to become a prolific author-illustrator. Sendak is noted for his zany characters and fantastic themes. In 1964 he won the prestigious Caldecott medal for his picture book Where The Wild Things Are. Although occasionally Sendak's work has provoked controversy, he has become one of the best known and beloved creators of children's books and has received many awards. His works include Chicken Soup with Rice; In the Night Kitchen; Outside Over There; Higglety Pigglety Pop; and We Are All in the Dumps with Jack and Guy. In 1970, he was the first American to receive the Hans Christian Andersen International Medal and in 1997 he received the National Medal of Arts from President Clinton. Characters from two of Sendak's books were the basis of an animated television special, Really Rosie, which first aired in 1975. Sendak was also the set designer and lyricist for a subsequent off-Broadway musical of the same title, with music composed by Carol King. He was the lyricist, as well as the set and costume designer, for the original production of an opera based on Where The Wild Things Are (with music by Oliver Knussen) in 1980. In addition, Sendak has designed sets and costumes for performances of operas by Mozart, Prokofiev, and other classical composers.
Published October 14, 2003 by Hyperion Book CH. 56 pages
Genres: Children's Books, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Brundibar

Kirkus Reviews

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Though there’s far more here than a simple metaphor, the occasional yellow stars on clothing and an “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign (recalling the entrance to Auschwitz) make the Holocaust unavoidably present for readers who recognize such symbols.

Nov 01 2003 | Read Full Review of Brundibar (New York Times Bes...

Publishers Weekly

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Working in colored pencils, crayons and brush pens, Sendak conjures bustling Slavic city streets and effectively juxtaposes innocence and evil in the cherubic visages of the children and Brundibar's ominously hyperbolic facial features (the villain's manicured mustache calls to mind the reigning ...

Nov 03 2003 | Read Full Review of Brundibar (New York Times Bes...

Common Sense Media

With the help of three talking animals, 300 school children, and eventually 1000 adults, the terrible Brundibar is run out of town and the children get home safely with milk for their mother.

Dec 29 2003 | Read Full Review of Brundibar (New York Times Bes...


Though she wants to pack her stuffed giraffe along with her clothes, her mother (Bhimani), father (Matt Farnsworth), grandmother (Réaux), and Uncle Rudy (William Youmans) insist she take the bulky Brundibar score.

May 08 2006 | Read Full Review of Brundibar (New York Times Bes...

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