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by Stephen Costanza & illustrated by Stephen Costanza

Age Range: 4 - 7

Pub Date: Feb. 28th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-8050-7801-5
Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Girls and women are often the overlooked players in music history.

This appealing book highlights a little-known facet of Antonio Vivaldi's composing life. He wrote much of his music for an Invisible Orchestra made up of girls from a Venetian orphanage, who performed behind a curtain. Costanza imagines that one of the young orphans wrote the four sonnets that inspired Vivaldi's "Four Seasons." Candida is Vivaldi's copyist, and she spends her days transcribing parts from his scores onto sheets for the musicians. His music feeds her daydreams, and she unconsciously scribbles poetry in the margins. Bright pastels in jewel tones create a patchwork of colors depicting the musical sources of Candida's inspiration; glittering stars and shimmering light dance across the pages. In contrast, the scores are drawn on a parchmentlike background. The musical notation is accurate and clearly legible, which will satisfy readers who are themselves musicians. Less pleasing is the sporadic use of italics, which has more of the effect of a reading primer than musical ornamentation. Some are effective as emphasis, others less so: "… to great applause… Candida stepped out and took a bow." Fluid pacing of scenes lyrically advances the story, although the characters' outsized heads sometimes threaten to overwhelm the charm of the illustrations.

Altogether, a pleasing interpretation of the creative process and the power of art to connect individuals. (author's note) (Picture book. 4­–7)