TWO SCARLET SONGBIRDS by Carole Lexa Schaefer


A Story of Anton Dvorák
Age Range: 5 - 8
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A mix of fact and fiction, this is a lovely tribute to the muse of music. In the summer of 1893, the composer Anton Dvorák traveled with his family to Spillville, Iowa, a town settled by people from his homeland of Czechoslovakia. A bird called a Scarlet Tanager also made a journey to Spillville, and when the two met, beautiful music was made. Schaefer (Down in the Woods at Sleepytime, 2000, etc.) tells the story of Dvorák’s search for the elusive bird whose song had captured his imagination. He wandered the countryside, listening to the sounds of nature that inspired his music—sounds that ripple across the pages of the book. Meanwhile, the bird found a mate, built a nest, sang with its ladylove, and trilled messages to the other birds. Within days of his arrival, Dvorák filled a notebook, and his shirt cuffs, with musical notes—his American Quartet. And as the four musicians played the new piece of music, the Scarlet Tanager heard the sound of his own song, and stopped in the window to sing along for just a moment. Rosen’s (The Soul of Africa, 2000, etc.) oil paintings truly bring this story to life. Her bold brush strokes and bright colors are reminiscent of Van Gogh, and bring a warm feeling to the entire story. The author’s note fills in the details of Dvorák’s trip to Spillville. What a wonderful way to introduce children to the world of music, and to the inspiration that is all around them. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 11th, 2001
ISBN: 0-375-81022-6
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2001


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