Peter and the Wolf

Hi Parents! I’m sure you are all familiar with it, but Peter and the Wolf is one of my son’s favorite stories. We have read the book and watched the videos many many times, and even acted out our own version in the playground. If not, it is.. a “symphonic fairy tale for children”—a musical composition written by Sergei Prokofiev in 1936. The narrator tells a children’s story, while the orchestra illustrates it, with each instrument representing a different character in the story. It is Prokofiev’s most frequently performed work and one of the most frequently performed works in the entire classical repertoire. (WIkipedia)

Prokofiev’s artistic conception for Peter and the Wolf was to create a work for eternity which introduced children to the instruments of the orchestra. Natalya Sats, the director the Children’s Theatre in Moscow who commissioned the piece, had another lesson she wanted to communicate: a lesson about the battle between youth and right-thinking (Peter) and the inflexible representatives of the old world (Grandfather) who did not understand the new Soviet ideology. Peter and the Wolf is a story about not being afraid, about taming nature and conquering external threats. The dark shadow in the woods beyond the fence perfectly evokes the paranoia of the Stalinist Regime, which wanted Russian citizens to believe that they “live in paradise, but there’s always an external enemy just beyond the fence, for which they must be on guard”. (Source: Classic FM-https://www.classicfm.com/composers/prokofiev/peter-and-the-wolf-guide/)

The story is about a boy who ignores his grandfather’s warnings about a wolf and goes out in a field to play. Warning for younger or sensitive kids: The duck gets eaten by the wolf. In the book/ narration the duck can be “heard in the belly” quacking at the end, and in the Disney version of course he is not killed at all.

Videos:

Royal Ballet School-in 4 parts, from 1995. I can’t believe my son watched all 4 parts in a row of a ballet! This one has amazing costumes (even for the trees, water, and gate) and is artistically interpreted with beautiful dance.

DigaPix-Poegsma  – A children’s book publisher in the Netherlands.

This one has a narrator and illustrations shown as an animated slide show. The character drawings are a little weird (the bird looks a bit like a toucan for example) but the landscapes are beautiful. Look for the hidden wolf in the clouds and woods. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ueGfjBKbiE

Southwest Symphony Orchestra Puppet Show: This one has some cute puppets, especially the life-sized skipping Peter, and I really like the narrator’s voice.

David Bowie narrates the Disney Version:

This one is nice because the duck is not actually killed in the end. Very fluid animation and cartoony characters typical of Disney. Always nice to listen to David Bowie.

Chuck Jones 1995

Here is a kind of goofy floppy animated version where the bird and the cat both help Peter to catch the wolf: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvyN2-f0omE

Peter and the Wolf Stop-Motion Animation 2006 by Suzie Tempelton

Hands down our favorite version. Won an Academy Award for best animated film in 2008. The stop-motion is beautifully detailed and exquisitely made. It was free for a while on YouTube but now is $2.99 on iTunes/AppleTV: well worth it. The story is slightly different in that there is no narration, there is a sub-story of the bird not being able to fly, the boy getting bullied on town, and the wolf gets to go free at the end. May be a bit scary for younger kids: shows the duck being swallowed up.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/peter-and-the-wolf/id614133162

German Version by the Salzburger Marionettentheater. Somehow they tell the whole story in  just 6 minutes. (Probably since it is not so much narrated but “acted out,” with a lot of fade-outs.) Beautiful puppets and stage set.

Books:

This 2015 paperback book in English can be found on the UK Amazon site, has the loveliest illustrations. See the illustrator’s website here: https://www.ayeshalrubio.com/peter-and-the-wolf

This German version has gorgeous scratchboard illustrations, and the language is simple enough it can also be translated while reading (my son often says “read it in English”) https://www.buecher.de/shop/klassiche-musik-fuer-kinder/peter-und-der-wolf/prokofjew-sergej/products_products/detail/prod_id/11975268/

This hardcover German version comes with a CD and the music notes. The illustrations are a bit wild. https://www.amazon.de/Peter-Wolf-musikalische-Prokofjew-Bilderbuch/dp/3219117767/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Peter+und+der+Wolf%3A+Susanne+Smajic&qid=1592900186&s=books&sr=1-1

Activities

-Make Puppets and stage set and do a puppet show of your own:

See this Montessori inspired version here: http://montessoribeginnings.blogspot.com/2010/07/peter-and-wolf.html

Here are some pre-printed cut-out puppets to download and print at home from the Music Institute of Chicago: https://b78f59c1-2283-4772-94fb-15c532578b85.filesusr.com/ugd/32973b_2d953955b27144fda2dd4316ddaa95de.pdf

Here are instructions for a sewn felt wolf finger puppet: 

Make a stop-motion animation. See our step-by-step instructions on how to make an animation with iMovie: https://saturdayclubberlin.com/2020/05/16/how-to-make-a-stop-motion-animation-using-imovie/

Act it out with your kids. I’ve even done this with just me and my son, where we each get to play several different roles, but could be great for a small group of kids too.

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