Saturday, May 5, 2018

The Composer is Dead

The Composer is Dead. Lemony Snicket. Illustrated by Carson Ellis. Music by Nathaniel Stookey. 2009. HarperCollins. 36 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: The composer is dead. "Composer" is a word which here means "a person who sits in a room, muttering and humming and figuring out what notes the orchestra is going to play." This is called composing. But last night, the Composer was not muttering. He was not humming. He was not moving, or even breathing. This is called decomposing.

Premise/plot: An investigator has been called in to investigate the 'mysterious' death of the composer. WHO murdered the composer and why? Is the murderer to be found in the strings? the brass? the woodwinds? the percussion section?

"I swear on my own intelligence and good looks; I will solve this terrible crime against humanity and/or classical music."

My thoughts: I love, love, LOVE this one. I love the strong narrative voice. The writing is fun and clever. The text is LIVELY.
The Violins answered first, of course. The violin section is divided into the First Violins, who have the trickier parts to play, and the Second Violins, who are more fun at parties. "We were performing a waltz," said the Violins. We played graceful melodies so the ladies and gentlemen could spin around and around and around until they felt dizzy and somewhat nauseous. This kept us busy all night. AHA the Inspector cried, making a note in his notebook. "Perhaps you murdered the Composer for making you play so much." "Don't be ridiculous!" the Violins said. "Violins are the stars of any orchestra. If we killed the Composer, we would have to find work at square dances or in romantic restaurants."  
It is packed with plenty of information about orchestras. Yet at its heart is a dramatic--perhaps melodramatic--STORY.

I love the audio book included with the book. Together the music and the book create a lovely and dark atmosphere. It is an invitation to play and create.

I also love that it's a MYSTERY. So many detective/mystery stereotypes are in play in the narrative. If you love that genre then this one is just giddy-making.

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Music: 5 out of 5
Total: 13 out of 15

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

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