An exceptional picture book whose main purpose is telling a wonderful story rather than teaching a lesson, this should be a real treat for almost any child. How can it miss with a page one note that the first Voyager spacecraft launched in 1977 will greet any extraterrestrial life forms with the music of Bach? From "In the days of castles and kings..." through the Bach family's musical generations to Johann Sebastian's own twenty children, one is lured by fascinating facts about this prolific genius who never traveled more than two hundred miles from his home but played for princes and kings. Composing by night, rushing to the church organ at dawn so his ears could hear what his head had already heard and his fingers written, he created a body of music unmatched and beloved to this day. The acrylic paintings are lively and appealing, providing a positive image of music's charms. I wish only that the author/illustrator had penned the music scores more accurately, as a sharp eye will pick up too many or too few notes in some of the bars.
Children's Literature - Judy Chernak
The life story of the immortal composer, whose music travels on the Voyager spacecraft, is told simply but vividly, using just a few sentences per page, to make Bach's music come alive. Descended from a musical family, Bach grew up surrounded by music. The text follows his studies, his listening and performing, and finally his composing career. Winter fills in some important details of his life and work along with a description of his influence. In poetic prose, she takes us beyond his death to where he "sings in the choir of angels." Her paintings (one per page) depict his growth with simplicity and affection. She uses decorative devices like curving bands of color to suggest the flow of music. Her solid sense of design depicts people and musical instruments with clarity and visual attractiveness.
Jeanette Winter's small book with a concise text contains a large amount of information. The book begins by describing Bach's musical lineage, family, and then, his parents death when the boy felt "the music stopped." Winter recounts Bach's life with his brother, early musical passions that drove him to better understand music, and his talents in a composing style where "each instrument had its own voice. And when all the voices sounded at the same time, it was like good friends talking." Winters mentions other interesting facets of his life including his twenty children, a jail stint, and how he was still composing one last piece" as his heart took its final beats."
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
PreS-Gr 3-As she did so effectively in My Name Is Georgia (Harcourt, 1998), Diego (Knopf, 1994), and Josefina (Harcourt, 1996), Winter combines a spare text and colorful illustrations to capture her subject's personality. In a folkloric tone, she presents the outlines of the composer's youth, family, marriage, and work. The author clearly relates how music dominated Bach's life as compositions filled his head and he worked feverishly to get them down on paper. She also succeeds at conveying the complexity of composition: "He heard one melody for the violin, one for the trumpet, one for the flute, and one for the oboe." Winter's palette is dominated by the blue, teal, and violet that are used to border each page, although within the illustrations, they take on a deeper, more vibrant shade. Waving ribbons of color represent the music throughout the illustrations. Although few details of the composer's life are included, readers will sense his determination to succeed. Most of all, they will understand the importance of his music to the world.-Jane Marino, Scarsdale Public Library, NY
Designed for younger readers, this biography in picture-book format is both an introduction and a tribute to one of the great musical geniuses of this world-and perhaps other galaxies as well (an introductory note reveals that the recorded music of Johann Sebastian Bach was included among the artifacts carried by the first Voyager spacecraft in 1977). The illustrations have a na
In both the illustrations and the text of
Sebastian, Winter makes the ordinary details in the life of this musician...take on a kind of grandeur, in part through her poetic text...Winter's writing, although never preachy or solemn, reveals her reverence for both the music and the man. Riverbank Review