For the Love of Music: The Remarkable Story of Maria Anna Mozart

For the Love of Music: The Remarkable Story of Maria Anna Mozart by Elizabeth Rusch and illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher gives a glimpse into the life of musical genius Wolfgang Mozart’s older sister who was a musical talent in her own right, but who was forced to give up her career.

Growing up in a time when young women were not encouraged to study music, Maria Anna Mozart managed to convince her music teacher father to give her lessons. Not only did she play well enough to tour with her younger brother, but she also composed pieces (which unfortunately have been lost). When she got older, however, she was forced to stay at home and give up her career. Finally she married and moved to a small town with no outlet for her talents. Rusch manages to keep the text fast paced and light enough that the sadness of the later events of Maria Mozart’s life are not too overwhelming.

The cover of the book indicates the illustrations are “paintings” by Johnson and Fancher, but they are some much more. Each piece has fabric incorporated into it as a collage that is so wonderfully textured you want to run your fingers over it.

How does the story of Maria Anna Mozart matter? For some children it may be simply an intriguing sidebar to history. To children who want to become musicians, however, it may strike a “chord” and the message becomes much more important. There has been a strong bias against women musicians even to this day. One study by two economists, Cecilia Rouse and Claudia Goldin, showed that women were less likely to be hired to perform in orchestras unless the auditions were held blind, that is the identity of the musician was hidden behind a screen (Blind auditions key to hiring musicians). The message that women can be expert musicians may encourage more budding talents to continue with their studies and also to let them know that others have been subject to bias.

Reading level: Ages 4-8
Publisher: Tricycle Press (February 8, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1582463263
ISBN-13: 978-1582463261

And for older children: In Mozart’s Shadow: His Sister’s Story by Carolyn Meyer

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Harcourt Children’s Books; 1 edition (June 1, 2008)
ISBN-10: 9780152055943
ISBN-13: 978-0152055943

nonfictionmonday

Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. We invite you to join us. For more information and a schedule, stop by the new Nonfiction Monday blog to see who is hosting each week.

This week’s post is at Check It Out.

Sarah Emma Edmonds in the Spotlight

Sarah Emma Edmunds is an amazing woman who served in the Civil War pretending to be a male soldier. This spring two picture book biographies were published about this little-known hero.

Sarah Emma Edmonds Was a Great Pretender: The True Story of a Civil War Spy by Carrie Jones and illustrated Mark Oldroyd
Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War Hero by Marissa Moss and illustrated by John Hendrix

The two books were both enjoyable. During a side-by-side comparison, there were slight differences in the stories. For example, Jones suggests that Sarah Edmonds ran away from her childhood home in Canada to get away from an abusive father whereas Moss indicates Sarah was trying to avoid an arranged marriage. It is very possible that both were the case.

Oldroyd’s darker illustrations give a more somber feel, appropriate for the Civil War. Hendrix’s illustrations are more cartoon-ish, but at the same time accurately depict the look of the era. Moss has included more pages in the back with a long author’s note and an extensive bibliography.

Looking at the recommended ages on Amazon (see below), Carrie Jones’ book is recommended for younger children, but it is quite similar to Moss’ in density of text and level of language. Seems like books with large illustrations are often assumed to be for younger children than is really the case.

Picking up both books and comparing them would be a great lesson in history, plus a lesson in how historical figures are portrayed. Once again, both these picture books would be a fabulous way for an older child or even adult to get a quick overview of an interesting person in history, and possibly leading them to a deeper pursuit of the topic.

Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War Hero by Marissa Moss and illustrated by John Hendrix

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers (March 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0810997355
ISBN-13: 978-0810997356

Sarah Emma Edmonds Was a Great Pretender: The True Story of a Civil War Spy by Carrie Jones and illustrated Mark Oldroyd

Reading level: Ages 4-8
School & Library Binding: 32 pages
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books (April 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0761353992
ISBN-13: 978-0761353997

nonfictionmonday

Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. We invite you to join us. For more information and a schedule, stop by the new Nonfiction Monday blog to see who is hosting each week.

This week’s post is at Chapter Book of the Day.

J.K. Rowling: Creator of Harry Potter

With all the fervor about the latest (and last) Harry Potter movie coming out, it is a great time to pull out the books. In addition to dusting off copies of the various titles in the Harry Potter series, you might want to consider a biography of the author, such asĀ  J.K. Rowling: Creator of Harry Potter by Cath Senker.

If you are a fan at all, you probably have heard some of the details of J.K. Rowling’s rise from poverty to fame. She was known to have written much of her the first book while sitting in a cafe. She wrote it out longhand and then typed it on a typewriter. But did you know that name Potter came from Rowling’s childhood friends? Senker has done her research.

Packed full of color photographs and high interest side bars, with titles like “Honors Board,” “Inspiration” and “Wow!” the book will keep a child’s attention. It has several photographs of the movie scenes as well, which will be familiar to the children who are fans.

Cath Senker’s biography includes not only the highlights of J.K. Rowling’s life so far (including why she uses the initials J.K.), but also is a wonderful promotion of reading and writing for children. It contains lists of J.K. Rowling’s favorite books as a child, how she started writing at age six, sidebars with writing tips throughout the book, and in the end is a quiz to test whether you have what it takes to be a writer. An interest in J.K. Rowling’s life might open the door to an interest in language arts, and possibly inspire a future J.K. Rowling.

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Library Binding: 32 pages
Publisher: PowerKids Press; 1 edition (January 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9781448832880
ISBN-13: 978-1448832880

nonfictionmonday

Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. We invite you to join us. For more information and a schedule, stop by the new Nonfiction Monday blog to see who is hosting each week.

This week’s post is at proseandkahn.

Fabulous: A Portrait of Andy Warhol

Fabulous: A Portrait of Andy Warhol, written and illustrated by Bonnie Christensen, takes a look at artist Andy Warhol’s life from his sickly childhood in the 1930’s to his heyday of popularity in the 1960’s.

Starting with the iconic Campbell’s soup cans in the endpapers, Christensen uses her rich illustrations to tell the story of an artist that blurred the line between commercial and fine art in a way that had never been done before. She emphasizes details that children can relate to, such as being bullied at school. Warhol was very sick as a child with a disease sometimes called “Saint Vitus’s dance,” which left his skin pale and blotchy. From those humble beginnings he managed to become rich and famous.

For those interested in more details, Christensen includes an extensive author’s note and Time Line in the back. There she reveals some of the grimmer details, for example the attack on his life in 1968.

Fabulous: A Portrait of Andy Warhol works at a number of different levels. In addition to being an excellent resource for a report on Andy Warhol, it could also be used in art class to accompany Andy Warhol-derived projects. Reading the book might comfort children who are feeling a bit out of sync with their peers, and let them know that it is still possible to be a success as an adult.

Frankly, I enjoy reading children’s picture book biographies because it is a quick way to get an overview of a famous person’s life and the authors always seem to find a new, fresh way to present the material. In this case, Christensen has done a lovely job of distilling the facts to their essence.

Reading level: Ages 6-9
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); First Edition edition (May 24, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0805087532
ISBN-13: 978-0805087536


nonfictionmonday

Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. We invite you to join us. For more information and a schedule, stop by the new Nonfiction Monday blog to see who is hosting each week.

This week’s post is at Bookmuse.