The recently released book, “Martin the Guitar,” is making waves in online sales.
The charming children’s story introduces us to little Martin the guitar who lives in Mr. Beninato’s Music Store in New York City. He longs to be adopted by a fine musician but the larger instruments in the shop are always picked before he is.
Each night, after the store owner leaves, all the instruments play for each other, competing for a place of honor in the shop. Big D, a large and loud guitar always wins the contest. But little Martin has big dreams and one night, Strada the violin, the grand dame of the music, steps out of her special case and champions Martin in the contest, performing a duet with him which leaves the other instruments in awe and admiration.
The book comes with a CD of music from Mr. Beninato’s store. Kids get to hear guitars, mandolins, violins and even a banjo.
The book was written, designed, illustrated and the music recorded here in Rome.
Musselwhite said he was on a field trip with his son to the Outer Banks in North Carolina when he was called upon to tell the kids a story. He came up with one in which the instruments in a music store came to life. That was ten years ago.
“Over the years I refined and edited it,” he said. “It’s taken 10 years from that night to write and publish. And the finished product is worth the wait.”
For a children’s book, the illustrations are just as important as the story itself. Musselwhite said he searched for years for the perfect illustrator until he decided on Brian Barr, art professor at Georgia Highlands College. Barr brought Musselwhite’s characters to life on the pages of the book which was then designed by Monica Sheppard before it was sent off to the publisher.
“I believe every instrument has a personality,” Musselwhite said. “I wanted to create a story where kids could see the bluster of a double bass or the femininity of an old violin.
“I wrote the story and developed the book with the express intent that a grandparent could read this delightful story to a child and capture the child’s imagination and each child could discover which character they were closely related to,” he added.
The other component to the book is an accompanying CD. In keeping with the spirit of a Rome-made endeavor, Musselwhite used a Berry College studio and a Berry student engineer to record the CD. He even played all the instruments on CD except the banjo.
The book was released at the end of July and has been enjoying good sales online at amazon.com.
Katherine Nobles, director of Berry’s Kindermusik program, said the book teaches the value of patience, believing in one’s self as well as listening to the wisdom of elders.
“I love the characters in this book,” she said. “Their names are so much fun to say. The written description, plus the lovely artwork of the music store and the city add to this delightful story. The accompanying CD engages the listener into the world of Martin.”
Nobles said the book is best suited to children six to 10 years old but younger children will enjoy the artwork and music.
“This book makes you wonder what really happens in a music store when everyone leaves for the night.”
Musselwhite was thrilled to consider that aside from all its other facets, the book can also make a perfect introduction to music for visually impaired children who can enjoy being read to as they listen to the sounds of the various instruments on the CD.
“I’m just very proud that something like this has come out of Rome and will hopefully go on to do big things,” Musselwhite said. “I’ve spent the last 25 years of my career believing that the artistic potential in Rome can equal everywhere else.”
“Martin the Guitar,” a hardcover book with accompanying CD is available online at amazon.com as well as barnesdandnoble.com. Readers can also visit the book’s web site at martintheguitar.com.