Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Red was Mozart's favorite color. Beethoven was a slob. Clara Schumann's concerts were so popular that police had to be called in for crowd control. In this enthralling work, Krull dishes 16 of the movers and shakers in musical history--from Vivaldi and the ``three B's'' (Bach, Beethoven and Brahms) to Gilbert and Sullivan, Woody Guthrie and Scott Joplin (early critics of his ragtime accused it of causing permanent brain damage and ruining people's morals). Readers who thrive on offbeat information will be delighted by the splendid array of fun facts lurking in these informative and accurate snapshot biographies. Krull masterfully distills the essentials of each musician's life into snappy prose, an attitude echoed in the book's lively, playful design (the introductory page for each musician, for example, contains not only pertinent information but tantalizing, often cryptic ``kickers'' as well--the one above Brahms's name alludes to his checked underwear, which audiences occasionally glimpsed when the absent-minded conductor forgot to fasten his suspenders). Hewitt's caricatures feature full-sized heads on tiny bodies--a slant that plays up the quirky presentation. She, too, has an eye for detail, pulling out appropriate visual tidbits from the text--Bach's prized silver coffeepots, for example, grace a page corner. Even those only remotely interested in music will be hooked by these living, breathing anecdotes--the stuff of which the best biography is made. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
Imagine a talk show with Mozart, Bach, Brahms, Beethoven, Tchaikovshy, Gershwin, Joplin and their gossipy neighbors. What a treat! Kathleen Krull has provided us with an intriguing format in her entertaining story. In this "who's who of musicians" we meet 20 of the most famous. Facts and fascinating tidbits pique our curiosity to discover even more about these greats. Why was Beethoven always on the move? Which famous female musician provided Brahms with creative inspiration? Artistic caricatures of the musicians add vitality to the book design. A great read aloud!
Children's Literature - Beverly Kobrin
Ms. Krull has collected interesting anecdotes about 16 famous composers and their music-facts one is unlikely to find elsewhere. For example, it's estimated that if Mozart were alive today, he'd be earning $20 million a year from sales of his recordings. Ms. Hewitt's compelling watercolors of Vivaldi, Clara Schuman, Joplin, Guthrie, et al. are as intriguing as the text.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8-- Bravo! A collective biography that is informative and fun to read. Krull has compiled an enjoyable assortment of sketches on 16 famous musicial giants that will have readers rushing to the stereo. In three or four pages each, such masters as Vivaldi, Mozart, Beethoven, and Tchaikovsky; popular composers such as Gilbert & Sullivan, Joplin, and Gershwin; and even folk hero Woody Guthrie are profiled. Gossipy, nitty-gritty personal habits and quirks are presented, along with a sense of appreciation for the musicians' lives and times. Hewitt's full-page caricatures are surrounded by important details. In subdued but striking colors, she captures the personality and temperament of these composers. This is a humorous, delightful, appreciative treat. While it doesn't have enough information for reports, it's a fine, personalized way to introduce children to the creators of great works that are a part of every music curriculum. The book has a helpful list of musical terms, an index, and an excellent bibliography. It belongs in every library and on every music teacher's desk. --Beth Tegart, Oneida City Schools, NY
In a radical departure from most collective biographies written for children, this book is never dull. From its opening quotation ("The more of us musicians there are, the crazier we all become." --Erik Satie), to its colorful illustrations, to its fascinating details ("Not until he was almost thirty did [Franz Lizst] stop playing with toy soldiers"), the book makes its statement with style. Beginning with Vivaldi and ending with Woody Guthrie, the selections provide a few surprises, but the 19 composers profiled include many whose music children might hear, perform, or write reports about, such as Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Gershwin, Joplin, Prokofiev, Verdi, and Gilbert and Sullivan. Others, such as Boulanger, Shumann, and Satie, will be less familiar, but no less interesting. Hewitt strives to show how these famous and creative people lived their lives, noting in her introduction that in their music "they had a perseverance and single-mindedness that led not only to success, but also to eccentricities, sometimes amusing, sometimes sad." A marvelous full-page caricature of the biographee opens each section of the book, followed by a few pages of biography and another, smaller illustration. While there's no subject index or source notes here, the back pages include a glossary of musical terms, an index of composers, and a bibliography for further reading. Hewitt's stylized paintings interpret the surroundings and personalities of the musicians with panache. Although the writing is occasionally choppy, this unique volume represents a welcome departure from the cold, idealized, "marble bust" approach to children's biographies of musicians.
From the Publisher
"Unstuffs a host of shirts and delivers wonderful musical trivia."--Newsweek
* "Bravo! A collective biography that is informative and fun to read."--School Library Journal, starred review
* "Living, breathing anecdotes--the stuff of which the best biography is made."--Publishers Weekly, starred review
What People are saying about this
From the Publisher
"Unstuffs a host of shirts and delivers wonderful musical trivia."Newsweek
* "Bravo! A collective biography that is informative and fun to read."School Library Journal, starred review
* "Living, breathing anecdotesthe stuff of which the best biography is made."Publishers Weekly, starred review