Children’s Book Review: ‘Welcome to the Opera’ by Carolyn Sloan

By Alkis Karmpaliotis

When I was asked to review award-winning author and music educator Carolyn Sloan’s new children’s book, Welcome to the Opera: Discover the Enchanting World of Opera with Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” I was immediately captivated by the concept of a book designed to teach young kids about opera. The book not only met, but exceeded my expectations, bringing a smile to my face. Growing up with a deep passion for classical music, I would have loved to have a children’s book like this.

“Welcome to the Opera” is the latest volume of Sloan’s “Welcome to…” series, which includes the popular “Welcome to the Symphony” and “Welcome to Jazz” – both of which I wholeheartedly recommend.

Intended for children aged four and above, the book follows the journey of three puppies as they attend a performance of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” educating the reader about the history of opera, the various elements of opera, and the story of Mozart’s masterpiece along the way.

In the author’s note, Sloan explained, “When exploring which opera to use at [the book’s] anchor, it was clear that Mozart’s beloved classic “The Magic Flute” was the best option. Its fairy-tale nature, larger-than-life characters, and remarkable score make for an unforgettable experience at the opera.”


The book introduces various key opera terms and teaches the reader about all the different aspects of opera, including voice types, costumes, and plot. It even explains, humorously and charmingly, why people shout “Bravo!” at the end of performances, with a more knowledgeable dog explaining to one of the puppies – much to the puppy’s surprise – that it is perfectly acceptable to yell at the conclusion of the opera. A particularly noteworthy element of the book is its last page, containing a wonderful “Why Sing?” section that discusses the power and significance of singing, a “Meet Mozart” section with a brief and engaging biography of the great composer, and a summary of all the operatic terminology covered throughout the book.

Perhaps the book’s best feature is its interactive sound tab on the right side. Each new term introduced in the story is accompanied by a number which corresponds to a sound button, enabling the reader to put sound to terms such as “overture,” “flute,” and “coloratura soprano.” The singing is in English, allowing children to further immerse themselves in the story in a way that would not be possible with a foreign language. Also central to the book were Kaly Quarles’s magnificent illustrations. With vibrant and colorful artwork, Quarles puts thought and care into each character’s individual expressions and mannerisms, adding an incredible visual dimension to the story.

Seamlessly combining words, music, and visuals to give the reader a truly immersive experience, “Welcome to the Opera” is an absolute gem and deserves a place in every elementary school classroom around the world. I highly recommend it!