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Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgang Gottlieb Mozart was only three years old?not much bigger than his name?on the day his life changed forever.
So begins this vivid biography about one of the most legendary prodigies in history. Award-winning author and illustrator Diane Stanley engagingly tells the story of a brilliant boy who grew up to be a complex and often troubled young man?a man who composed some of the most beautiful music of all time.
Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgang Gottlieb Mozart was only three years old—not much bigger than his name—on the day his life changed forever.
So begins this vivid biography about one of the most legendary prodigies in history. Award-winning author and illustrator Diane Stanley engagingly tells the story of a brilliant boy who grew up to be a complex and often troubled young man—a man who composed some of the most beautiful music of all time.
With stunning and expressive illustrations, she portrays Mozart's turbulent life as a marionette show, inspired by the famous Salzburg Marionette Theatre, using an innovative artistic approach to present the life of a renowned musical genius. In concise and lyrical prose, Stanley presents an honest and sympathetic portrait of the boyhood and tragically short adulthood of a composer whose music has lived on for more than two hundred years.
Inspired by the Salzberg Marionette Theatre, Stanley (Joan of Arc) frames this engaging and well-paced biography of Mozart as a three-act puppet play. Sprinklings of dialogue and witty anecdotes-such as the prank Mozart plays on a singer mid-performance-flesh out the life of this wunderkind ("What a strange and magical childhood it must have been for Wolfgang... being praised, petted, and covered with kisses by the greatest nobles of Europe"). Painting gessoed wood panels with egg tempera in soft tones, Stanley achieves an authentic sense of place, while augmenting the historic mood with musical staffs that wind through the scenes and informational asides presented by angels. While the three-act structure serves the through story well, some may find the marionette strings attached to every character distracting. Endnotes include an extensive chronology of Mozart's life. Ages 8-12. (Feb.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Stanley brings meticulous research and creative visual treatments to her biographies; this 18th-century prodigy offers fertile grist for her mill. In extensive back matter, the author explains that she chose to portray the characters as marionettes after a trip to the Salzburg Marionette Theatre, a group that frequently performs simplified versions of Mozart's operas. The visible white strings may take some explanation for a young audience, but the staged effects, from the opening curtain to the suspended cherubs carrying footnotes (parenthetical comments or definitions), are well suited to the story of a man who spent most of his life performing or composing. Stanley divides Mozart's life into three acts. The first begins with his interest in lessons at age three and follows him on a European tour with his musical father and sister. In the second act, the arrogant young man, no longer a wunderkind, is dismissed by his employer and estranged from his father. During the finale, viewers meet Mozart's wife and children, learn a humorous anecdote regarding The Magic Flute , and discover the composer's tragic and untimely demise. The quoted material is carefully contextualized; one has the sense that the comments are taken from actual letters, although this is not documented. Transcriptions of melodic lines from famous works appear throughout. Stanley's golden palette is achieved with egg tempera on wooden panels. Natural accompaniments include Kyra Teis's The Magic Flute (Star Bright, 2008) and Peter Sís's whimsical Play, Mozart, Play! (HarperCollins, 2006).-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library
Posted September 4, 2011
Our home school is back in session.
Each year we study three composers. (One per twelve-week term.)
And this year we kick it off with Mozart.
We listen to Mozart and we try to read a handful of books about the composer - if they're available.
And it's often pretty hard to locate great kid reading material about dead composers that doesn't read as if it's dead itself.
Enter Diane Stanley's Mozart - The Wonder Child: A Puppet Play in Three Acts.
I stumbled across this gem at our public library.
I was delighted (Yes. Delighted.) when I saw this little book on the shelf written by Diane Stanley.
I already love Diane Stanley. We read her Joan of Arc last year. Piled on this year's stack are her books about Shakespeare and DaVinci.
She's just good.
Her writing is accessible, the right amount of funny, completely factual and delivered in the form of a story that makes a kid (and a grown up) want to listen.
And she illustrates her own work as well.
And it's terrific. Always adding to the story, never detracting.
This Mozart book is written in three stages - like a play in three acts.
And the drawings are as if the entire story is a puppet play with marionettes.
Imaginative. Beautiful. And the very definition of "gentle learning".
London laughed when Mozart climbed into the empress' lap and kissed him. Bergen couldn't believe someone would steal Mozart's music. And I learned that Mozart actually never referred to himself as "Amadeus" despite the fact that we know him with that title now.
This book - I love it.
I'm sad that I have to return it to the library.
Or maybe I don't.