cover image Beethoven Lives Upstairs

Beethoven Lives Upstairs

Barbara Nichol. Scholastic, $15.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-531-06828-1

Fans of the audio and video versions of this tale will be delighted to see that it's finally made it to print. Although a bit is lost in the translation (the music, namely--it's difficult to describe the splendor of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, and Nichol, wisely, doesn't attempt it), the story remains a compelling one. Weaving fact and fiction, Nichol chronicles a slice of the great composer's life via correspondence between young Christoph, a boy living in Vienna in 1822, and his Uncle Karl, a music student in Salzburg. Christoph's mother, recently widowed, has taken in a tenant, and Christoph is alarmed at the deaf composer's strange ways: he's a slob, he's got a terrible temper, he's up at all hours of the night making dreadful noises ``like the sounds of an injured beast,'' and once--to Christoph's intense mortification--he was caught composing in the nude, standing at the window in full view of all the neighbors. How the boy comes to appreciate the man and his music makes for a satisfying yarn. Cameron's warmly lit oil paintings are rich with period detail, lending an authentic atmosphere. Paired with a recording of some of Beethoven's works, the book affords a splendid introduction to classical music. Ages 5-8. (Mar.)