The Remarkable Farkle McBride

The Remarkable Farkle McBride

by John Lithgow, C. F. Payne

NOOK Book(NOOK Kids)

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In his first book, actor and musician John Lithgow introduces a memorable character, a fickle yet lovable child prodigy who brings the sounds and rhythms of an orchestra to sprawling visual life. With a double gatefold showing the entire orchestra, this is the ultimate book for the music lover in all of us.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442442450
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date: 09/20/2011
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 40
File size: 20 MB
Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.
Age Range: 5 - 8 Years

About the Author

John Lithgow is the New York Times bestselling author of I Got Two Dogs; Mahalia Mouse Goes to College; Marsupial Sue Presents: The Runaway Pancake; I’m A Manatee; Micawber; Marsupial Sue; The Remarkable Farkle McBride; and Carnival of the Animals. An award-winning actor, he has starred on stage, film, and television. He performs concerts across the country and has recorded the CDs Farkle and Friends, Singin’ in the Bathtub, and The Sunny Side of the Street. Visit John at

C. F. Payne has illustrated more than a dozen picture books, including the New York Times bestselling Mousetronaut by astronaut Mark Kelly, the Texas Bluebonnet winner Shoeless Joe & Black Betsy, written by Phil Bildner, and the New York Times bestsellers The Remarkable Farkle McBride and Micawber, both by John Lithgow. He teaches at the Columbus College of Design, where he is the chair of the Illustration Department. Payne lives with his wife and children in Cincinnati, Ohio. Visit him online at


A Conversation with John Lithgow, Author of The Remarkable Farkle McBride

Q: You've worked in many different art forms (theater, television, etc.). Have you always had writing aspirations? Why a children's book?

A: I've never really had the urge to write, at least not the kind of urge that made me an actor. I love reading, of course, and I guess I've always felt it best to leave writing to great writers. Farkle McBride, in fact, was not originally conceived as a book at all but as a performance piece for me and an orchestra. So I guess I've sort of stumbled into the role of a children's book author.

Q: How are acting and writing creatively similar/different for you?

A: In my case, writing is a means to an end. I wrote the words to be spoken out loud, as the best children's books should be. And I suppose I always intended to be the primary reader. So in a sense, I write to act. Definitely not vice versa.

Q: What authors do you remember from your childhood? Did any of them influence or inspire your writing?

A: My favorite books for children were a set of bright orange volumes called Childcraft. They were full of wonderful doggerel poems, many of which I can still recite by heart. And they definitely influenced me in cooking up Farkle. More recently, the books I've read to my own kids made their marks. I love the way A. A. Milne, Beatrix Potter, and William Steig use an exotic vocabulary to get kids excited about words.

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown is probably my favorite. That, or her Runaway Bunny. Of the thousands of authors for kids, she remains the one who seems to know the heart and mind of a child best of all.

Q: The Remarkable Farkle McBride is about symphonic music. Did you play an instrument as a child? Do you play any now?

A: At age 27 I finally challenged myself to learn the guitar, which now, 28 years later, I still play, but pretty badly. But I always loved music as a kid, of all kinds, and I grew up kicking myself for never truly mastering any instrument.

Q: Do you have a favorite instrument or type of music to hear played?

A: I don't think there is any music purer than Bach's Suites for Solo Cello. But then I like bluegrass banjo, Coltrane on tenor sax, Ravi Shankar on sitar, etc.

Q: Which instrument would you choose to reflect your personality?

A: My personality? The kazoo. Requires enthusiasm but no skill whatsoever.

Q: Do you plan to follow up this first book with others?

A: Yes, indeed. I've already cooked up books about a squirrel who loves art, one about two dogs, and one about a frustrated kangaroo. I seem to have gone all zoological all of a sudden.

Q: Is the character of Farkle based on a real person?

A: I didn't base Farkle on anyone in particular, but C. F. Payne certainly did. The model for his version of Farkle is his own son, Evan.

Q: How was C. F. Payne selected to illustrate Farkle?

A: C. F. Payne had illustrated the album cover of my first CD, Singin' in the Bathtub, so we already had a collaborative friendship. I'd picked him for the album from his great portraits on the covers of Time and The New York Times Book Review. I've been a big fan of Norman Rockwell's since I was a kid myself, and to me, Payne is his successor, the best American illustrator working today. I sent him The Remarkable Farkle McBride even before I sought out a publisher, so I've always considered him the cocreator of the book.

Q: How did your experiences as a father affect your writing a book for children?

A: I doubt if I ever would have written for children, or entertained them for that matter, if I hadn't had my own. My children have taught me what kids like to hear. They've also given me a sense of when I'm talking down to them and when I'm talking on their level. The authors of bad children's books never got that straight.

Q&A courtesy of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing.


October 2000

"Oh, pity the prodigy, Farkle McBride!" Poor Farkle McBride, musical wunderkind. Even though he's mastered almost every instrument under the sun -- from violin to flute to trombone to drums -- he's just never satisfied! Could his true calling be in front of the orchestra? From the collaboration of award-winning actor John Lithgow and acclaimed illustrator C. F. Payne comes The Remarkable Farkle McBride, a beautiful picture book that's sure to strike a chord with the music lover in all of us.

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The Remarkable Farkle Mcbride 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
bugabooJS More than 1 year ago
We have enjoyed all of Lithgow's books. Farkle was our first. My husband is a musician and music educator he does not have the same reservations about the book as one of the previous reviewers. We both feel that this book introduces children to different music sections in a fun way. Lighten up, have a little fun, and enjoy!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought the paperback of the Remarkable Farkle McBride as a companion gift for a child to go with the CD Farkle and Friends. The pictures are charming, and the audio recording is terrific. This text is not identical to the recorded audio: some of the sections on the audio are expanded and use a different narration. But it may work if you skip the sections that are different (that may depend on the child in question).
whitneyfarmer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
SUMMARY:Farkle has an incredible musical talent, however after only a year of playing various instruments he becomes bored. He masters every instrument needed for an orchestra. Finally, he realizes his true love is not playing instruments, but conducting an entire orchestra on his own!PERSONAL REACTION:The illustrations for this book are tremendously wonderful. I absolutely loved the context, it is beautifully written. I was captured by the easy word flow, and dynamic plot. EXTENSION IDEAS:I believe this would be a great book to read before "music time." I think this could really inspire students to work hard at learning their instruments.This book could also add to a lesson on never giving up. Keep working hard, never give up, and you will achieve your goals.
kldsmith on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Great childrens book about a musical prodigy
bcowie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Farkle McBride has amazing musical talent, but he gets bored with his instrument quickly and takes up a new one. Once he has mastered each of the instruments in the orchestra, Farkle realizes that as conductor he can have control over them all at once.The rhymes in the book make it great for reading out loud. I also enjoyed the illustrations. I do believe this is quality literature. I would happily include it in my school library. The book takes the reader to each section of the orchestra and teaches a little bit about each one without going too far over a young child¿s head.The book would be perfect to use in a music unit. Students could choose their favorite instrument from the book and learn about it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book that i think you all should read. I had a music teacher that did. Yes, pleez read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Farkle McBride' sends a number of disgusting, misleading, destructive messages: 1. It's possible to master a musical instrument without years of hard work. 2. It's ok to destroy musical instruments you no longer want to play. 3. Parents happily reward such behavior by buying their little sociopath yet another instrument to destroy. 4. Such a monsterously spoiled and destructive child will finally find happiness and a rewarding musical outlet conducting an orchestra.