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4.0 1
by Tim Wynne-Jones

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A Grand piano dangling from a helicopter over the desolate wilderness:to Burl Crow, on the run from his father, it offers a glimps of something rich and strange, a sign of a world beyond his own.

Burl finds himself following the piano's trajectory until, cold, wet and starving, he emerges from the bush onto an isolated lake to hear music — piano music,


A Grand piano dangling from a helicopter over the desolate wilderness:to Burl Crow, on the run from his father, it offers a glimps of something rich and strange, a sign of a world beyond his own.

Burl finds himself following the piano's trajectory until, cold, wet and starving, he emerges from the bush onto an isolated lake to hear music — piano music, unlike any he's ever heard.

It's here he meets Nathaniel Orlando Gow, the Maestro, standing on the deck of a remote cabin, conducting as if he were surrounded by an orchestra rather than a forest and lake. In just one day his eccentric genius changes Burl's life forever — opening him up to a world her never imagined, one he will fight to keep, even if it means telling the biggest lie of his life.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The wilderness of northwest Ontario is a fitting setting for this tantalizing coming-of-age story about an abused boy, Burl, whose pervasive sense of isolation is cracked by an encounter with a famous pianist. When Burl runs away from home, he follows the sound of piano music and finds its source in an unlikely, pyramid-like cabin. There, the Maestro, as Burl is instructed to call him, having fled busy Toronto and the demands of his public, is trying to finish writing his great oratorio before he dies. When the quirky Maestro leaves Burl in charge of the cabin and his grand piano, Burl thinks he's found a haven-but it's not long before events hurl the teen into a web of other people's plans and back to his own family trauma. Wynne-Jones's (Some of the Kinder Planets) builds strong, multidimensional characters; Burl's father Cal both teaches his son about fishing lures and punches him in the face; Burl triumphantly dreams of living alone but is desolate that his parents never bothered to report him missing; the Maestro loves nature but fears wildlife. Complex and poignant, wrapped around a dramatic story line, this book won Canada's Governor General's Award for Children's Literature in 1995. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)
The ALAN Review - Lisa J. McClure
Fourteen-year-old Burt Crow stepped out of the wilderness into the sunlight, his father's words still echoing in his ears: "You steal everything!" Ironically, Burt steps into another wilderness when he enters the world of Nathaniel Orlando Gow, a.k.a. The Maestro. This new wilderness, however, offers Burt something in return-a chance at a life he had never imagined existed; but he must "steal" to keep this one. Canadian children's author Wynne-Jones's first attempt at adolescent fiction hits the mark. The Maestro is an imaginative (albeit at times, improbable) coming-of-age story that explores issues of parenthood, self-reliance, fear, and honesty. Although Burt's behavior will be problematic for some, he is a likeable young man whose resilience and perseverance are remarkable. Most impressive is Wynne-Jones's ability to present Burt's story in metaphorical images that add great depth to the timeless story of a young man's search for his place in the world.
Children's Literature - Catherine Petrini
A piano soars like an eagle against the sky. A shower of flame shoots from the roof of a lakeside cabin. Some of the images from Wynne-Jones's lyrically written book will remain engraved on the reader's mind. When 14-year-old Burl runs away from his brutish father, he finds a place that feels like paradise. An eccentric composer, nicknamed Nog, uses the place as a retreat. But Nog can't hide from his world any more than Burl can hide from himself. When tragedy strikes, Burl must take action-first by reinventing his past and then by confronting it. At the center of this coming-of-age novel are the troubled boy's relationships with the crusty old musician and with his own father. The weakest scenes are those in the city. Like Burl, Wynne-Jones seems more comfortable amid the pines, with the majestic chords of a piano swelling on the wind that ruffles the surface of a sky-blue lake. 1998 (orig.
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9After observing his violent, abusive father's rendezvous with a waitress, Burl Crow runs away. He heads into the Canadian wilderness and discovers the retreat of Nathaniel Orlando Gow, an eccentric, world-renowned pianist. During their brief encounter, they become friends and Gow tells the boy about the oratorio he is composing. The man returns to Toronto and suddenly dies. After receiving the bad news from Bea, Gow's supply pilot, Burl begins living a lie of his own creationthat he is the Maestro's illegitimate son. Bea sends him to Toronto to make a claim for the lake and cabin, but instead he seeks out Gow's friend, who encourages him to rescue the oratorio. On his way back north, Burl is helped by a former teacher who offers him a home. He is trailed by his father who, in a drunken rage, sets the hideaway on fire. Everythingincluding Gow's piano and oratoriois destroyed and Burl, seeing his father engulfed in flames, saves him. Complicated? Yes, and not totally convincing. Wynne-Jones's writing is powerful in its description of individuals and situations, but does not probe either in much depth. Burl often seems naive and younger than his 14 years. His feelings for his father are not strongly portrayed, yet the novel hangs on actions that result from these feelings. Characters are drawn and then dropped, and their stories never lead anywhere except to move Burl toward a rather unrealistic ending. A complex novel that may not hold readers' interest.Wendy D. Caldiero, New York Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
With a brutal, despicable father who beats him and an ineffectual mother incapacitated by drugs, Burl, 14, has learned not to expect anything good from life. After a crisis, he runs away into the wilderness near his small Canadian town, eventually stumbling upon an isolated house that is the secret refuge of a famous musician. Burt ingratiates himself, making himself useful while harboring the hope of staying on. But the boy's relationship with his reluctant savior is only the first in a series of encounters with those who want to use him, assist him, control him, or threaten him. Wynne-Jones (The Book of Changes, 1995, etc.) skillfully presents a complex character who, in order to survive, uses all his resources: knowledge of the woods; an instinctive understanding of the manipulations of adults; strategy; brutality, the legacy of his father; and compassion.

Lyrical writing combines with an unpredictable, unusual plot to convincingly test a teenager facing life-altering choices. A truly compelling adventure story.

Product Details

Groundwood Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.25(w) x 7.00(h) x (d)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

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Maestro 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book for the English Festival for my school. Even though I found the beginning of the book to be rather rigid, I think it is a very good book. I personally was cheering on the main character the entire way, feeling the same emotions that he was. I think that if you are studying music in any form, you will relate to the story even more. It would help you to understand the significance of some of the storyline. I don't want to give anything away, so I'll end it here.