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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Review: Zeezok Publishing


As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, Zeezok Publishing sent me Handel at the Court of Kings, Robert Schumann and Mascot Ziff, their respective study guides and an accompanying cd for review purposes. I received no compensation. This review reflects the experiences of me and my family.

I never really thought about doing a composer study, or rather, I thought it would be something for my children when they were much older. Then I received Handel at the Court of Kings and Robert Schumann and Mascot Ziff, both living biographies written for young children by Opal Wheeler. The children sat, wide-eyed, listening as I read to them about how George Frederick Handel learned to play the spinet in the attic, wrapping the strings in strips of cloth so that his doctor father would not hear and stop him from becoming a dreaded musician. Not exactly dramatic material, but it's little stories like this that bring the young Handel alive on the page in a way that children can relate to and they were genuinely interested in what would happen next.

The accompanying cd contains recordings of various short pieces by the composers in this set. The music for each selection is also printed in the books, with the idea that children might actually learn to play some of the pieces. The sound quality is good, though I found that I had to turn the volume all the way up. The pieces here are so very short that they are not really sufficient to give an overall “feel” for the composer’s work. I would highly recommend adding a cd or two from your local library so you can the right atmosphere of appreciation. My kiddos’ reaction to the cd was “what’s all the fuss about?”

The study guides contains timelines, discussion questions and interesting “tidbits,” which give more information about the composer himself, as well as background information about the time and place. The tidbits add a lot of value to Wheeler’s simple narratives which tend to lack any real strife or conflict. You could leave these out for younger children, but then the boys might enjoy hearing, for instance, about Handel’s button saving him from a dueling sword.

Overall, it’s an enjoyable set, and good place to start for an informal composer study.

The Handel at the Court of Kings/Robert Schumann and Mascot Ziff Special Offer set is available from Zeezok Publishing for $35.80.

You can also purchase the books separately. Other composers as available, including Chopin, Schubert, and Hadyn.

For reviews of other products from Zeezok Publishing, please visit:


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