Children's book cover

It used to be that Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saëns was the go-to resource for teaching children about musical instruments. Now, just on time for Christmas, there is a Penn State Blue Band book that provides the same sort of instruction in a format more relatable to little Nittany Lions.

THE DAY I FOUND THE BLUE BAND is a new children’s book that goes through all of the instruments that make up the band. It explains how they make music and their part in the ensemble. Written by ABBA member Jacqueline Materia Nardone, it is aimed at kids between 3-9 years old. 

Both Jacqueline and her husband Thomas Nardone are Blue Band alums. Jacqueline played piccolo from 2001-04, was squad leader and Band Historian her senior year. Thomas was in the snare line.

Blue Band Members
Author Jacqueline Nardone is second from the right in this squad photo. With her are Sarah Husband Ely, Sean Merritt and Melissa Papa McGuire.

“When I had my daughter Penelope (two years ago), people gave me a lot of Penn State books and other things,” she says. However, there was nothing for children built around the Blue Band. The band was the heart and soul of the Nardones’ time in Happy Valley. “I was looking for a book to inspire my daughter to learn more about music – and the Blue Band,” she continues.

TDIFTBB is available after November 3 for $16.95 through SBS in State College, on Amazon, on Facebook at or from Mascot on the web at

child reading book
Penelope Nardone is deep into her mom’s book about the Blue Band.

TDIFTBB is not a baby’s board book but a book of regular pages written in rhythmic rhyme throughout…just the thing to attract young readers. There are photos of each instrument and each is in context with others, whether brass, woodwind or percussion. The illustrator is Rachel Schwarting Novel. 

Originally from the Lehigh Valley, Jacqueline was a political science major and then went to law school. The family re-located to State College from New York this year just as Covid became an issue. She actually wrote the book and found her publisher while in New York.

“Even when I was in the Blue Band, people had questions about instruments – like, is the Sousaphone a real instrument?” she recalls. TDIFTBB answers that and all the other questions a youngster might have about the Blue Band and band instruments.

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