Inspiring Young Readers

posted on 25 Feb 2024

Sounds Good! Discover 50 Instruments by Hans and Ole Könnecke

Sounds Good! is a delightful introduction to 50 musical instruments for younger readers – who I suspect will be meeting some of them for the very first time. It is, technically, an interactive book for the tech savvy because the sound made by each of the instruments can be sampled if you’re able to scan a QR code.

Of course, this may not be possible for everyone: if you don’t have access to a smart phone or if you’re reading this book in an environment where listening to sounds isn’t appropriate then you’ll have to skip this. But the good news is that you don’t have to engage with this added interactive element to really enjoy the rest of the book.

Each of the fifty instruments is given a double page spread with text on one side and an illustration on the other. The descriptions of how the instruments are constructed and played are written by Hans Könnecke and kept short and easy to understand. I especially like the way he slips in some amusing additional (but always true) information that gives the instrument another dimension. For example, after praising the flexibility of the violin, he says:

“But there’s a catch: it takes a huge amount of practice to be a really good violinist. (Or you could strike a bargain with the devil – something many violin players have been accused of down the ages, from virtuoso classical violinists to wandering musicians who drove village festivalgoers to a frenzy with their wild music.)”

The illustrations from Ole Könnecke try to pair the instrument with an appropriate animal who is busy playing it. You’ll have great fun deciding whether he’s chosen the exact right creature to be the anthropomorphised musician.

I also like the fact that the organisation of the book – the order in which the instruments are presented – is satisfyingly random. It’s usually the case that instruments get grouped in their ‘usual families’ – brass, woodwind, percussion etc. – but not here. I love the way all these very different instruments just rub up against each other in no particular order or supposed level of importance.  

The book is the product of a very talented partnership as the publisher’s website confirms:

“Ole Könnecke was born in 1961 and spent his childhood in Sweden. He now lives in Germany and has produced over 30 books, several of which have won international awards. Hans Könnecke is an award-winning composer, instrumentalist and music producer for film, and theatre, who studied composition at the Academy for Music and Theater in Munich."

Available now from Gecko Press, you will be able to get a copy from your local independent bookshop – who will be happy to order it for you if they don’t have a copy on the shelf.


Terry Potter

February 2024