Seventh of a series of music-appreciation books for young readers covering composers and interpreters from Bach to...

VIVALDI'S FOUR SEASONS

In 18th-century Venice, a young priest named Vivaldi taught music to the orphans of the Ospedale della Pietà and later composed a concerto for them, the first of four “seasons,” each with an accompanying sonnet. 

In her serviceable re-creation of the circumstances behind the composition of “Spring,” Celenza provides a believable back story. She describes the orphanage, the hidden girls’ musical performances (they played behind a screen so no one could see them), and their story-telling teacher, whom they called “Padre Rossi” for his red hair. But there is no real narrative arc to carry readers along. The description and invented dialogue serve as a backdrop for presenting the program of the concerto: the opening birdsong, storm and sunlight’s return; the meadow scenes with the goatherd’s barking dog; and the celebratory dance of the third movement. Watercolor illustrations on double-page spreads give a sense of time and place, but the people are stiff and static. Included as backmatter are translations of the sonnets that accompanied publication of The Four Seasons and a note from the author, who is a commentator and professor of music, adding some further information. Included on CD is a much-lauded performance by the Venice Baroque Orchestra with Giuliano Carmignola on Baroque violin.

Seventh of a series of music-appreciation books for young readers covering composers and interpreters from Bach to Ellington, this is a useful introduction to a beloved classic. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-57091-637-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2012

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26 FAIRMOUNT AVENUE

            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization.

A PLACE FOR PLUTO

If Pluto can’t be a planet—then what is he?

Having been a regular planet for “the better part of forever,” Pluto is understandably knocked out of orbit by his sudden exclusion. With Charon and his four other moons in tow he sets off in search of a new identity. Unfortunately, that only spins him into further gloom, as he doesn’t have a tail like his friend Halley’s comet, is too big to join Ida and the other asteroids, and feels disinclined to try to crash into Earth like meteoroids Gem and Persi. Then, just as he’s about to plunge into a black hole of despair, an encounter with a whole quartet of kindred spheroids led by Eris rocks his world…and a follow-up surprise party thrown by an apologetic Saturn (“Dwarf planet has a nice RING to it”) and the other seven former colleagues literally puts him “over the moon.” Demmer gives all the heavenly bodies big eyes (some, including the feminine Saturn, with long lashes) and, on occasion, short arms along with distinctive identifying colors or markings. Dressing the troublemaking meteoroids in do-rags and sunglasses sounds an off note. Without mentioning that the reclassification is still controversial, Wade closes with a (somewhat) straighter account of Pluto’s current official status and the reasons for it.

Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68446-004-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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