The Remarkable Farkle Mcbride: 52 Unexpected Ways to Make a Birthday, Holiday, or Any Day a Celebration

The Remarkable Farkle Mcbride: 52 Unexpected Ways to Make a Birthday, Holiday, or Any Day a Celebration


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Vroom-pety BANG!

Young Farkle McBride is a musical genius: He plays the violin, the flute, the trombone, and the drums with incredible skill. But he's never satisfied: Something is missing.
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.
Doom-pety CLANG!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780689833403
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date: 09/01/2000
Pages: 40
Sales rank: 514,782
Product dimensions: 9.00(w) x 11.50(h) x 0.30(d)
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


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: 52 Unexpected Ways to Make a Birthday, Holiday, or Any Day a Celebration 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
dangerlibearian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A musical prodigy learns a new instrument every year, then to be promptly thrown out when he gets tired of it. In the end he discovers conducting and listening to all the instruments together. Fun for the kids to mime the instruments.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have a son who is not a very die-hard reader. This book has brought him out of that and has really gotten him to enjoy the art of a story again. As a parent, I never tire of reading it aloud. Not to mention the wonderful illustrations. We love all of John Lithgow's books, and wait for each new one with much anticipation.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A very funny introduction to the orchestra. Lithgow writes in silly rhyme an almost farcical story about this child prodigy. It's entertaining in a big and colorful way.