The Extraordinary Music of Mr. Ives: The True Story of a Famous American Composer

Joanne Stanbridge, Author, Joanne Stanbridge, Illustrator
Joanne Stanbridge. Houghton Mifflin, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-547-23866-1
Reviewed on: 12/24/2012
Release date: 10/01/2012
Open Ebook - 32 pages - 978-0-547-93566-9
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This startling biography of Charles Ives centers on a historical tragedy and its impact on the composer, whose work was unappreciated during his lifetime. "People don't listen to his music," writes Stanbridge (My Four Lions). "They want familiar tunes and beautiful harmonies—not songs that are as bold as a city or as noisy as a traffic jam." In 1915, when Ives hears news of the Lusitania sinking, the music that "lives inside him like a friend" goes silent. Five successive, wordless spreads depict the foundering vessel and panicked passengers evacuating. Stanbridge's doll-like figures contrast uncomfortably with the silent scenes of disaster, as terrified individuals in a small boat look back at those clinging for life. Ives begins to hear music again when mournful New Yorkers join in song together: "In the sweet bye and bye,/ we shall meet on that beautiful shore." Stanbridge's work is its own curious, yet quietly inspired composition, a meditative ode to an artist whose work lives on "in everyday sounds—in the rumble of a motorcycle, the wail of a fire engine, or the busy chatter of a market." Ages 4–8. (Oct.)
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