Snicket, Lemony. 2009. The Composer Is Dead. Illustrations by Carson Ellis. Music by Nathaniel Stookey. (The book comes with a CD lasting just almost 58 minutes. The story itself comprises about thirty minutes of the CD.)
From the publisher:
The Composer Is Dead is a collaborative effort by the San Francisco Symphony, Stookey and Mr. Snicket, also allegedly known as Daniel Handler. The goal of The Composer Is Dead commission, book, and CD is to build upon the wild popularity of Mr. Snicket’s inventive humor and Stookey’s new score to introduce the orchestra to young listeners in an original and entertaining way.
The Composer Is Dead engages listeners with a gripping plot—in this case, a whodunit murder mystery—while the music and Snicket’s narration work together to provide an entertaining introduction to the instruments of the orchestra, in the vein of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf and Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra.My thoughts: Wow. Maybe even super-wow. This may be the best "music-appreciation" book I've ever come across.
What is the story? An investigator (the narrator) is trying to solve a murder mystery. He is trying to figure out WHO killed the composer. Each of the instruments from the orchestra is being interrogated.
"I will begin by interviewing all the usual suspects," the Inspector said. "Like all people in his line of work, this Composer had many enemies lurking in the orchestra. They can lurk all they like, but I will find them wherever they are lurking.
I will find them if they are lurking in the strings.
I will find them if they are lurking in the brass.
I will find them if they are lurking in the woodwinds.
I will find them if they are lurking in the percussion section.
I will find them wherever--wherever they are lurking,
I will find them!"
Each instrument is giving its time in the hot seat, and in the process readers can learn a bit about each--their sound, their purpose within the orchestra at large, etc.
If I had to pick a favorite, it would be the violas.
"Well, I guess that takes care of the strings," the Inspector said, "Oh--the Violas! I forgot all about you."This one is definitely recommended. I know I'm *mean* highlighting it now when it's not due to be released until MARCH 2009. But I just couldn't resist.
"Everyone forgets about us," said the Violas bitterly. "We play the notes in the chords that nobody cares about. We play crucial countermelodies nobody hears. We often have to stay late after performances and stack up all the chairs. We spent last night feeling sorry for ourselves as usual."
I've listened to this at least half-a-dozen times already, and I just *can't* get enough. Seriously. I wouldn't be surprised if I have this one memorized by the end of the week.
Did I mention that I love the illustrations by Carson Ellis? Well, I do. They're great.
© Becky Laney of Young Readers