Jen Bryant, illustrations by Beth Peck
Published by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, September 15, 2005, 32 pages
This book was borrowed from the library for the purpose of reading/reviewing.
This book is based on the real life experience of Olivier Messiaen a Christian French composer and pianist.
In 1940 he was captured and sent to the Nazi prison camp--Stalag 8A in Gorlitz, Poland. While he was there he was allowed to play a piano and compose music. He composed "Quartet For The End Of Time." A quartet of prisoners played the piano, violin, cello, and clarinet.
Please read the biography devoted to this composer:
I read this book to my six year old granddaughter, not paying close enough attention that it was for ages nine to twelve. She sat still while I read this book, she listened attentively to the more lengthy story than most books she is read to. She was surprised to hear it was a true story. She told me it was a sad/happy book.
Music is magic, meaning music takes you to a place where your heart can soar beyond your present circumstances. Olivier was given the ability by a German prison guard to play a piano and compose music, and that took him to a place far away from the stark, cold, fear of prison. The story is told in a manner that a child of ages nine through twelve could understand, yet my six year old granddaughter liked and understood the story. The illustrations are subdued, probably masking the horrific life in a Nazi prison camp. The firearms that the Nazi soldiers hold are not defined (shapeless) and appear less frightening. Body expressions such as the face, slumped shoulders, the hands, they tell the story through art.
I felt this was a great book, the adult reader will need to be prepared for questions and further discussion considering the topic.