BECOMING BACH by Tom Leonard


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Age Range: 4 - 8
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Johann Sebastian Bach’s early years come to life in a delightful salute to the 17th-century German composer.

Johann, raised in a large family of musicians, is intrigued by the patterns he sees in musical notation and imagines the kinds of sounds he could invent with “just seven notes.” While this simplification of the concept of composition is likely for the benefit of budding musicians (Bach used the Western 12-tone scale), it also lends an immediacy to the light, first-person text. Leonard uses expansive double-page spreads throughout to illustrate Johann’s love of music. On one such, the notes of a score fill with vibrant color and float away beyond the young copyist’s hand. The artwork in acrylic paint on illustration board leaves plenty of room for young readers to interpret metaphorical images. An evocative, vertical double-page spread is a visual play on the word “scale,” as notes pour out of Johann’s hands to reach new heights and form castles in the air. A second vertical spread shows Bach as he “pulled out all the stops” on the organ to fill a church with sound that literally soars to the rafters. An afterword fills in the details of Bach’s life as a family man and his career as a composer, and a list of source material, suggested listening, and websites is provided.

An imaginative look at what sparked a musical genius.(Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 28th, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-62672-286-6
Page count: 40pp
Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2016


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