cover image Sebastian: A Book about Bach

Sebastian: A Book about Bach

Jeanette Winter. Harcourt Children's Books, $16 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-15-200629-7

Winter sets a mythic backdrop for her picture book biography as she shows the lineage of the esteemed composer: ""In the days of castles and kings,/ the birds listened/ when Vitus Bach played his cittern."" While her profile of Georgia O'Keeffe in My Name Is Georgia was grounded in the details of the landscapes that so moved the artist, here Winter's distinctive narration eschews the anecdotal and informal, and therefore distances readers from the subject: ""The music filled the church like thunder./ Angels listened."" Winter's signature acrylic paintings, evocative of folk art, also take on an other-worldly aspect: dramatic black backgrounds and silhouettes set off the many patterns--of clouds, stars, trees, rooftops, cobblestones. Winter casts the angelic audience smiling upon Bach from the firmament in a far more favorable light than the ""unruly boys"" Bach tutors and the ""fidgety choirboys"" at the church where Bach plays the organ. Readers who prefer an idealized portrait will be well served by this unusual, if somewhat elusive, book. Ages 5-8. (Mar.)