Brighton's ( Nijinsky ; Five Secrets in a Box ) considerable gifts are mostly unfulfilled in this rather static picture book about the talented and precocious Austrian composer (1756-1791). As narrated by Mozart's sister Nannerl, here a rather prim and proper fraulein-in-training who became a music teacher at the ripe old age of 16, the story is oddly perfunctory and cold, told in a diary-like style with an unornamented probity that, even if historically accurate, makes dull work of the young genius. Set in rococo frames, Brighton's paintings are intentionally selective in tone: creamily pallid and formally flat, they make even a naughty kitten look inert. Much the same, regrettably, can be said for Mozart: he's a good little boy who just happens to have a musical knack. A sense of the music itself is wholly lacking, and of Mozart's legendary playfulness there's hardly a clue. While the Viennese formality of Empress Maria Theresa's court--and of drawing rooms throughout--is skillfully evoked, more seems missing from than included in Brighton's ceremonial account. Ages 3-8. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/29/1990 Release date: 09/01/1990 Genre: Children's
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