Current Recommendations             

“The Beatles Were Fab (and They Were Funny)” by Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer
The Beatles Were Fab (and They Were Funny)
Authors: Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer
Illustrator: Stacy Innerst
Publisher: Harcourt Children’s Books, 2013
Reviewer: Karla Stoffel, Carthage Student

If you are looking for a hilarious, fun-fact filled story on the Beatles, Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer have written just the book. The Beatles Were Fab (and They Were Funny) is the story of four Liverpool boys that “made music, made history, and made people laugh.” Kathleen and Paul are not only a husband-and-wife writing duo, but also life-long Beatles’ fans and their story brings the Beatles, a household name for children of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, back to life for contemporary audiences.
Told as a narrative—interspersed with actual quotes from the Beatles—this book outlines the Beatles’ story beginning with their early days as struggling musicians in the dingy town of Liverpool. The number one emphasis in this book is on the Beatles’ never ending use of humor as a means to keep their spirits up despite the treacherous circumstances they encountered. Through accounts of the Beatles’ rise to the “toppermost of the poppermost” and the spread of Beatlemania in England and across the Atlantic Ocean to the United States of America, Krull and Brewer interweave snippets of the Fab Four’s witty humor.
Stacy Innerst, an artist in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, accompanies Krull and Brewer’s words with acrylic and ink illustrations that recreate the Beatles’ adventures and also capture their joking nature. Innerst’s imaginative, eye-catching illustrations add further intrigue to Krull and Brewer’s words. And with lyrics from many of the Beatles’ more than 200 recorded songs incorporated in the illustrations, it is hard to avoid singing along as one reads.
The Beatles are a timeless band that reached an unsurpassed level of fame. Krull, Brewer, and Innerst have created a masterpiece of children’s literature that accurately portrays the craze of the Beatles and their rollercoaster journey from Liverpool boys to world-renowned performers. Through Krull and Brewer’s ingenious integration of humor into a nonfiction text, along with Innerst’s imaginative illustrations, this book is a successful effort to make nonfiction fun, entertaining, and appealing to young readers. Krull and Brewer have also included a brief set of endnotes that include a chronology of “Important Dates in Beatles History” and a list of sources. A treasure of a piece of children’s literature, The Beatles were Fab (and They Were Funny) is not only a factual account of the Beatles’ rise to fame, but also a reminder of the importance of humor.

“Want to Be in a Band?” by Suzzy Roche
Want to Be in a Band?

Author: Suzzy Roche
Illustrator: Giselle Potter
Publisher: Schwartz and Wade Books, 2013
Reviewer: Karla Stoffel, Carthage Student

Suzzy Roche’s cleverly written story, Want to Be in Band?, disguises a first-person memoir as a second-person advice narrative. Suzzy Roche is herself a musician. She has been playing with her two older sisters, Maggie and Terra, since they were young, and formally became the folk-indie rock band, The Roches, in the 1970s. This band thrived for more than thirty years, enjoying numerous performances across the country, recording eleven records, writing music for TV and movies, and collaborating with other great musicians.
Want to Be in a Band? tells Suzzy Roche’s personal story in second person, inviting the reader to consider his or her own interest in forming a band. Through tones of encouragement, seriousness, and silliness, Roche explores the journey it takes to become an active performing band. Want to Be in a Band? reveals the many struggles, as well as thrills, that one is likely to encounter along their journey from learning how to play the guitar, to traveling the country, performing in front of zillions of fans. According to Roche’s story, making music in a band takes an incredible amount of hard work, cooperation, enthusiasm and, don’t forget, practice!
In Giselle Potter’s traditional style, the colorful watercolor and ink illustrations bring Roche’s words to life. The variety of colorful illustration layouts, from double-page spreads to snapshot images, contribute to a story that is both enjoyable to read, and also aesthetically pleasing to look at. From providing readers with an attractive second-person advice story to generating excitement about making music through diligence and cooperation, Suzzy Roche’s story and Giselle Potter’s illustrations work together to create an attractive story for young readers.

"Saint-Saens's: Dance Macabre" by Anna Harwell Celenza

Saint-Sanss Danse Macabre 
Author: Anna Harwell Celenza
Illustrator: JoAnn E. Kitchell
Publisher: Harcourt, 2013

In the mid 19thcentury the streets in Paris were full of life, though underneath the city is a cemetery which fascinated people to the degree that these catacombs were open for people to visit. The widely respected composer, Camille Saint-Saens was one of the many visitors. The result has become one of his most popular pieces of music.

For those not familiar with this piece the publisher has included a CD with a performance by the well-respected Pittsburgh symphony led by one of the most important contemporary conductors, Lorin Maazal. The author and illustrator have here produced the 8th title in a very popular series. It runs from Bach to Ellington. Celenza deals with only part of the composer’s life, well written to bring his thoughts and words to life for young children. A prominent poet of the time, as well as a very popular singer also included in the action surrounding the composition of this ballet.
Kitchell’s art continues the visual approach in the earlier books. A firm black pen line outlines naturalistic colors with little attempt to create the third dimension. Celenza, a professor of music, presents authentic research in an author’s end note, though the book itself can communicate with children without this.
An interesting aspect of this particular book is that it describes the reaction when the work was first performed. Some people in the audience applauded but others shouted their displeasure, for instance “Scandalous!” How interesting that the work elicited such strong feelings in the same way that Stravinsky’s *Rite of Spring did. Musicians who explore the boundaries of conventional composition, like **Charles Ives, are often not appreciated until much later.

Authors of books for children about the arts are particularly important in this era when children are far less likely to encounter music and arts program in the schools. The job of acquainting children with the arts thus often falls now to grade level generalists who can certainly appreciate the help that books like this offer them.
*Book about this by Lauren Stringer is review elsewhere in the “music” blog section.
**See Charles Ives Review elsewhere in the "music" blog section
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"Handel. Who Knew What He Liked." By M.T. Anderson

Handel, Who Knew What He Liked: Candlewick Biographies 
Author: M.T. Anderson
Illustrator: Kevin Hawkes
Publisher: Candlewick, 2013

George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) will be largely unknown to most of the intended audience- middle school children. Author Anderson ( manages to include a lot of information. He has written short (2-3 double page) chapters in language which is compact in amount and in length of sentence. To balance the information load, Anderson provides many amusing anecdotes about the headstrong composer who had no doubts, at least throughout most of his life, about his own ability. After a disagreement which led to a duel with a composer friend, the two men went out to dinner. There are also humorous asides in the author’s voice, ie: in describing Handel’s satisfaction during one performance, Anderson says we can imagine Handel “Waggling his wig.”
Illustrator Hawkes ( is able to use the constrained amount of space available for his art, to create pictures which enliven the text. The vertical rectangle trim size (6w x 9 1/4h) is limiting. But Hawkes’ use of chiaroscuro is indeed impressive. Throughout the art, he draws attention to particular critical details. For example, the contrast between the intense whiteness of Handel’s wig when playing, back to the viewer but facing the subdued light in his audience, gives an impressive sense of time and place.
Aware that most young readers will be unfamiliar with objects (like a clavichord), musical forms (like opera), or processes (pumping organ bellows), Anderson provides discrete footnotes as necessary. In addition, extensive end matter accompanies the retelling of Handel’s life, in complete form from birth to death. A chronology of his life, a discography, an author’s note, selected sources, and an index are all provided. This is an admirably manageable introduction to a prolific composer who worked in many different musical forms.
Teachers and librarians unfamiliar with Handel’s music could go to, which includes an audio recording of his music.

"The Man With The Violin" By Kathy Stinson
The Man With the Violin
Author: Kathy Stinson
Illustrator: Dusan Petricic
Publisher: Annick Press, 2013

Taking an actual event, Stinson weaves it into a compelling story about young Dylan, who is far more aware of things around him than is his mother. A trip downtown takes them through a busy subway station and Dylan is distracted and then entranced by the magic of the music he hears a street musician playing. The effects of the music remain with Dylan throughout his day and he recognizes the playing when he and mom hear it on the radio later. At book’s end, mom is finally caught up in listening, and they are both transported. So transported, in fact, that as they swirl with the music, she loses a slipper, and the pattern on the rug becomes airborne as well- a nice visual touch!
Petricic has won awards from the Canadian Children’s Book Center and the Canadian Library Association for his illustrations. Here, the visual “noise” of the surrounding crowds is depicted in shades of grey, which contrasts with and underlines the full color swirls of the enticing music, which transports Dylan while the crowds and his mother remain oblivious. What makes crowds oblivious- their everyday tasks done while commuting, ie: checking cell phones, eating and drinking while walking, and minding the baby. They are so indifferent that, as end matter reveals, when the real Joshua Bell ended his playing, though 1000 people had walked by, only seven stopped to listen.
Extensive end matter includes the author’s factual explanation of the actual event she has woven into her fiction. There is also a Postscript by Joshua Bellthe world renowned violinist who agreed to do the concert requested by a newspaper which wanted to test public reaction or obliviousness to his playing. In his commentary, he makes the distinction between hearing and listening, something which we should help children understand, for the richness it would contribute to their lives.
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"When Stravinsky Met Nijinsky." By Lauren Stringer

When Stravinsky Met Nijinsky: Two Artists, Their Ballet, and One Extraordinary Riot 
Author: Lauren Stringer
Publisher: Harcourt, 2013

The works of this composer (1882-1971) and dancer (1889-1950), changed the face of modernism in those arts. Of the two, Stravinsky is the better known to audiences today, though indeed he isn’t widely known beyond classical music fans. Nijinsky, the best known dancer of his era, is almost completely unknown today, apart from dance enthusiasts. When the two met, and created the Rite of Spring (Le Sacre du Printemps) they may not had been aware that they have been creating an event of sound and movement unlike anything else which preceded it.
The story line describing this event includes a well-crafted parallel description of the people in the audience who loved the production and those who hated it. Reports on the riot which occurred at the conclusion of the 1913 premier was widely reported in the popular media.
The aural and visual images which author Stringer composes with her words are impressive. For example when Stravinsky composed by himself , “his piano trilled an orchestra…”When Nijinsky composed dances by himself,“his legs leaped- a deer!” . These images contrast effectively with that Stringer writes for Stravinsky (“His piano pirouetted a puppet…") and for Nijinsky (“His torso trumpeted a melody…”) She continues with interesting patterning in writing in describing the audience divided reation at the premiere. “They stood on their seats and shouted: “Boo! Boo! Boo! “ contrasted with : “They stood on their seats and shouted: Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!”
The author provides extensive end matter, including a description of how she came to research and write this duo biography, brief factual paragraphs about each of the men, other material about the dance itself, and finally some notes about her creation of the art for the book. All of this is quite interesting to adults but probably won’t be of much interest to children. This rises as do some other recent picture books about important adult creators in the arts. A question to be considered: Who is the audience for such books? Kathleen T. Horning deals with the important question of audience in her article about Madeline's Rescue (The Horn Book Magazine, May/June, 2013 P35-41).
For further information about these creators:
"The Bear's Song" By Benjamin Chaud
The Bear's Song
Author: Benjamin Chaud
Publisher: Chronicle, 2013

Benjamin Chaud combines a wonderfully funny, wry fantasy about Papa Bear who must go find his Little Bear which involves a trip to the opera house. This tale is presented in an impressively elegant format and art style. What results is an appealing book for young readers. Open the tall (14” h) book to discover a honeycomb pattern on the end papers replete with bees to get a preview of what starts the action. Papa Bear is ready to hibernate but Little Bear hears the siren song of the honey bee and follows it through the woods, into the city, and past the tall apartment buildings which are obviously derivations of a Paris landscape. Papa Bear follows Little Bear who follows the bee and that leads to an adventure at the opera house, which results in Papa Bear ending up on stage. His roar empties the opera house and the story comes to pleasant end as the two hibernate together, in an unexpected place.
The purposefully limited color palette includes blocks of color defined into shapes by a pervasive encompassing ink pen line. The author/Illustrator delights in providing myriad details for children to explore. We can see for instance, in the panoramic view of the opera house lobby, people arriving, socializing at small tables, musicians arriving and waiters delivering drinks. The cut-away backstage view on the next page shows actors putting on makeup, set movers doing their work, and even the maintenance man tending the furnace.
The vertical shape of the book is enhanced by the artist’s decision to have all the openings be double page spreads. So with a full 18” wide to provide tiny space for details, there is much to see. After you’ve enjoyed the whimsical story line, ask children what they notice on a page. They might, for instance, notice the action as Papa Bear runs through the forest after Little Bear. This includes a skunk observing from behind a bush and two wood cutters high up in a tree while a little boy runs to get closer to see the action. Are those wild boars running to get away from the bear? In all, a delightful experience laced with a lot of hilarity.
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Previous Recommendations          

"Spirit Seeker: John Coltrane’s Musical Journey” by Gary Golio

Spirit Seeker: John Coltrane's Musical JourneyAuthor: Gary Golio
Illustrator: Rudy Gutierrez
Publisher: Clarion Books, 2012
Reviewer: Karla Stoffel, Carthage Student

Spirit Seeker: John Coltrane’s Musical Journey tells the story of a jazz saxophonist born in North Carolina in 1926. A relatively unfamiliar musical figure to those who are not jazz enthusiasts, John Coltrane’s life story is one of great loss, hardship, and spiritual journey and transformation. Coltrane grew up surrounded by music and religion—his mother was the organist at the local church where his grandfather preached and his father was an amateur musician—and both music and religion would continue to be defining influences throughout his life.
Gary Golio’s picture book about this jazz extraordinaire begins in a small, warm church in High Point, North Carolina in 1938. At age twelve, Coltrane’s life was filled with laughter, fun, and with music. This, however, changed very quickly with the death of his grandfather, father, grandmother, and mother’s father all within two years. John and his family were devastated, and became desperate for money. During these times of hardship, John turned to music for emotional expression and healing. John began to learn the saxophone in high school and he found that making music made him happy; it brought life back into him. Moving to Philadelphia, a city overflowing with jazz and blues, after high school, John began to make a name for himself. Rich with metaphors, Golio’s text follows Coltrane’s story as it winds through struggles with drug and alcohol addiction, musical experimentation, soul searching, and spiritual cleansing.
Rudy Gutierrez’s illustrations are the perfect match for Gary Golio’s rich text. Gutierrez’s flowing and vibrant double-page spread acrylic and mixed media illustrations are more than colors on the page. With each brush stroke Gutierrez brings to life not only John Coltrane, but also his music. The layered, loose brush strokes seem to represent the deep, soulful jazz music of Coltrane’s saxophone. In a dual manner, Gutierrez’s illustrations also mirror the emotions of the text. Every time the reader turns the page he or she is struck with an image full of emotion; before one reads any words on the page he or she has a sense of the emotional content.
This picture book, not intended for young readers due to its drug and alcohol references, also includes endnotes that supplement the book’s primary text. Included in these endnotes is an afterward that provides additional details about Coltrane’s life and an author’s note on how Coltrane’s substance abuse effected his life and music. There is also an artist’s note telling of Gutierrez’s goal to honor Coltrane’s inspiration through the illustrations in this book, and a list of sources and recourses.
Gary Golio and Rudy Gutierrez have created a genuine work of art. An eye-catching visual and an engaging read, Spirit Seeker is the story of how life circumstances changed John Coltrane’s music, and how music transformed John Coltrane’s life. When finished reading, the reader will wish there was more.

"Harlem’s Little Blackbird. The Story of Florence Mills.”by Renee Watson

Harlem's Little BlackbirdAuthor: Renee Watson
Illustrator: Christian Robinson
Publisher: Random House, 2012

Big, bold, beautiful and simple! Large swatches of vibrant, unmodulated color engage the reader and attest to the value of repeated elements in design. Patterns on clothes, on buildings, even on room arrangements make a pleasant repetition. There is much excitement here, for instance, on the 8th opening, in which Florence sweeps across the double page spread, in an abandoned gesture which reflects her excitement. It was unusual for a black woman to land a role on a New York City stage in a sold out show which introduced Jazz to white audiences. At the time of the Harlem Renaissance (1918–1937/), important creators of the arts, such as, Langston Hughes and Duke Ellingtonwere at work. Florence was in the midst of it, though white audiences in both the US and London were resistant until her singing won them over.
Florence (1897-1927) goes from a childhood in a “teeny-tiny, itsy-bitsy house,” to using her voice to sing her way around the world. Watson has given us a story of a performer whose reputation has indeed dimmed over the years, but she has brought this convincing biography to life. The mixed media pictures by Robinson couldn’t have been more effective.
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"Tabby McTat. The Musical Cat " by Julie Donaldson
Tabby McTat, the Musical Cat
Author: Julie Donaldson
Illustrator: Axel Scheffler
Publisher: Scholastic, 2012.

Though many children will be unfamiliar with the concept of street buskers, the idea is thoroughly understandable as presented in this fine story about a best friend lost, and then found. Buskers perform in public spaces for money, by dancing, singing, clowning or playing musical instruments. In this case, Tabby meows loudly to accompany his friend, Fred’s, playing on the guitar while singing. But, one day Tabby’s eye is caught by an attractive feline and while they are engaged in conversation, a thief steals Fred’s hat with money and that precipitates a trip to the hospital. Lost to each other, McTat does find another home but despite domestic bliss with his friend Sock, he still misses Fred. In the end there is a joyful reunion and McTat’s son Samuel takes over as Fred’s accompanist.
Large full page art combines with some facing pages of eight small vignettes. The art in deep, rich colors outlined in black, conveys the urban environment effectively.
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The Extraordinary Music of Mr. Ives” by Joanne Stanbridge

The Extraordinary Music of Mr. Ives: The True Story of a Famous American ComposerAuthor: Joanne Stanbridge
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin, 2012

Even the most devoted music fans can find the compositions of Charles Ives (1874 –1954) to be a challenge. To say that his music is an acquired taste is an understatement. Multiple rhythms at the same time and multiple key signatures happening simultaneously make serious demands on adult listeners. So what is there about this man and his work that would make him a suitable topic of a children’s picture book?
Author Stanbridge has set the composer’s work within the context of the 1915 sinking of the ocean liner, Lusitania. The simplified art, watercolor contained in a firm black line, is positioned on full pages, bled to the edge without borders. These alternate left and right sides of the openings, facing a narrow vertical panel on the opposite page. She uses five wordless double page spreads to convey the impact of that disaster. The old hymn “In the sweet bye and bye…” is certainly a very different composition than the one which Ives subsequently created as his response to the sinking of the Lusitania.
An interesting feature of the book is the three panels featuring composers whose work “echoes” Ives. These include: Elliot Carter (1908-2012) (a ballet score); Aaron Copland(1900-1990) (an Opera); and John Adams (a concert piece) (1947). The book concludes with an Author’s Note as well as recommendations for further reading. There is no CD in a jacket but the list of further reading includes two internet sources where one can listen to the music of Ives.
There is an interesting parallel in the lives of Ives and the French primitive painterHenri Rousseau (1844 –1910). Both of these were people with exceptional creative talent, though without formal training in their art form, who spent most of their lives working at other jobs and created only once their work day was finished.
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"Vivaldi and the Invisible Orchestra" by Stephen Costanza

Vivaldi and the Invisible Orchestra 
Author: Stephen Costanza
Publisher: Holt, 2012
Reviewer: Barbara J Michaels

This is a perfectly sized book to share with children who will be attracted not only to the interesting jacket/cover but also by the bright green end papers. The equally rich illustrations, most of which sweep across the gutter to create double page spreads, are augmented with a few smaller illustrations. Some of these are close-ups, others provide more distant views.
The book is a rich trove of vocabulary, such words as concerto, bassists pondered, and frightful are among others. Costanza also uses language to provide interesting images such as: comparing violins to glittering stars, the room was“awash in sound,” and suggesting that a concerto about night must have moonlight in it. This picture book format might suggest younger children but in upper grades teachers could use the imagery to get children to think about creating their own imagery.
The author’s note on the last opening will be helpful to teachers. In a time of the distressing disappearance of public school music programs, books such as this are extremely helpful. Readers might want to also search out a copy of Costanza’s Mozart Finds A Melody (Holt, 2004)
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“Music Was It. Young Leonard Bernstein” by Susan Goldman Rubin
Music Was It: Young Leonard Bernstein
Author: Susan Goldman Rubin
Charlesbridge, 2011

Reviewed by: Gail Navratil, Retired Teacher

Music Was It is such a perfect title for Susan Goldman Rubin's biography of Leonard Bernstein's early years. Every page conveys his burning passion for music. As a very young boy Leonard would relentlessly beg and cry for “Moynik” (his word for music) until his mother would put a record on the old windup Victrola. He paid for his piano lessons by saving almost all his allowance, funded some of his schooling by playing in halls and clubs and earned the rest by giving piano lessons to young students. During the summers Leonard put on musical shows; and at any time of the year, could be found playing the piano until all hours of the morning.
His father, Sam, strongly discouraged Leonard from pursuing his love of music, because all he knew were the street musicians from his native home in Russia who made little for their “songs”. He wanted his son to “make a living”, specifically to take over his thriving New England business selling barber and beauty supplies for a company in Boston. Despite Harvard’s high tuition, Sam agreed to pay for Leonard’s schooling hoping his son would “concentrate on something practical like economics”. Lenny, of course, chose Harvard’s Music School and helped to pay for expenses by winning grants and scholarships. Sam drew the line when his son announced he had been accepted into the conducting class at Curtis Institute of Music. Not until his son made his debut at Carnegie Hall conducting the New York Philharmonic, at the young age of 25, did Sam express his acceptance and pride.
Rubin’s book is a quick and easy read. Middle and High School students will love browsing through the numerous pictures complete with musical scores, doodles and cartoons. Rubin even includes a picture of Miss America receiving a permanent wave with a newly invented machine that looked like something from outer space, a machine for which Sam purchased a license. Any child who experiences a true passion for an art, hobby or vocation which meets with parental disapproval will be encouraged to forge on and find ways to pursue his or her “love” as did Leonard Bernstein.

Extra bonuses in the back are brief biographies of key people in Bernstein’s life along with a timeline and sources of quotations. In the beginning of the book on a page all by itself is a quote which sums up so well the driving force behind Leonard Bernstein’s actions: “Life without music is unthinkable”, and so it would be.
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"Jazz Fly 2. The Jungle Pachanga" by Matthew Gollub

Jazz Fly 2: The Jungle Pachanga 
Author: Matthew Gollub
Illustrator: Karen Hanke
Publisher: Tortuga Press, 2010

Sharp edged, brightly colored and highly patterned 2-d art shows the main characters (sloth, spider monkey, and Macaw) and a large number of incidental characters. The trip to the Termite Nook is dependent on a variety of different transportation modes, each of which fails. When the pachanga, or dance party is at its peak, danger lurks in the form of an ant eater but all ends well because of a helpful jaguar.
There’s much language learning possible within this happy tale. Forty words in Spanish (in pink), and English (in green) on the end papers face solid color end pages. The book is vocabulary rich, using such terms as pupa, pomade, and larva. Children can also learn about such musical instruments as congo, maracas, claves, and timbales.
Typefaces which vary in size and color are scattered here, there, and everywhere across the pages adding to the energetic feeling. The book also includes an Author’s Note, providing information primarily intended for adults but contains some information which might be shared in simplified form with children, such as the jazz term, scat, and swing.
A useful addition is the audio CD provided in a jacket in the front. An introduction by Gollub encourages children to listen to the Spanish words and the jazz terms, as the author narrates the complete book text with background by instruments listed, above as well as bass, piano, and sax.
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For an additional list of titles including another book by Gollub see, "Staying in Tune" by Elizabeth Joan Kelly in the magazine Children & Libraries, Summer/ Fall 2012 pg.42-46

“Strange Mr. Satie” By M.T. Anderson

Strange Mr. SatieAuthor: M.T. Anderson
Petra Mathers
Viking, 2003

M.T. Anderson tackles a difficult job, describing the erratic life of a composer probably little-known to children of picture book age. Though in flap copy Anderson attests to his own childhood appreciation of the avant garde composer's work, it is unlikely that youngsters today will hear the compositions. Given the disappearance of school music programs, it is as an adult that most people might meet GYMNOPEDIES, probably the composer's most often performed piano work. Satie was born (1866-1925), in an age which valued conformity and tradition. Despite this, "...he wanted to make a new kind of music...that followed no rules but his own." In a famous cafe, The Black Cat, he could perform his music for appreciative audiences. Because it was "...the farthest thing possible from the world of rules" it was a good place for Satie.
After a quixotic determination to return to school at age 39, where he learned traditional music rules satisfactorily enough to graduate, he continued to explore his own musical ideas, including composing for several ballets. At the end of his life, persisting, he died in poverty, alone. However, Anderson ends this account of an unusual and unfamiliar life on a positive note, commenting about Satie's music, it had a "joyfully spinning" quality, which delighted the composer. The important unstated moral of the tale is encouragement to readers to persist in whatever they are driven to create, whether or not acclaim from others results.
What an inspired choice to select Petra Mathers to illustrate the book, as her quirky art indeed matches the "strangeness" of Satie's work so effectively! She uses her characteristic style which is immediately recognizable to adults who have enjoyed her other work (Sophie & Lou). Mathers includes so many delightful visually unexpected details that the reader gets reinforcement for the words of Anderson's retellling of the quirky life of the composer. Endpapers including tiny vignettes (like a blimp with Satie's quotation, "Why must everything be explained?") introduce the idea that something unexpected will follow. Other examples: a formally attired gentleman lifts his hat to greet another and the small bird sitting on top of the greeter's head is revealed, though not mentioned in the text. On the page depicting Le Chat Noir cafe, cats' heads are everywhere, though two of the patrons sport headgear featuring a large insect and another, a clock face. On another page, depicting a Satie-created ballet entitled "Cancelled," Mathers shows a male ballet dancer in a pink tutu who sports a beard and boxing gloves. Again, with no particular connecting mention in the text. All of this recreates the purposeful nonsense that Satie shared with visual artists, such as Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) who astounded the art world.
**to listen to a piece by Satie click here
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