cover image Beautiful Noise: The Music of John Cage

Beautiful Noise: The Music of John Cage

Lisa Rogers, illus. by Il Sung Na. Random House/Schwartz, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-593-64662-5

Forgoing biographical particulars, Rogers carefully details the perceptive work of American composer John Cage (1912–1992) with a survey of his inspirations and performances, inviting readers to contemplate the concept that “any noise could be beautiful.” Framing the story with a recurring “What if...” (“What if you composed a piece of piano music/ without any notes”), onomatopoeic lines create a sense of Cage’s unconventional music (“blenders and juicers and washing machines/ all whirring and spinning and swishing and sploshing/ onstage”), and underscore his determination to explore sound despite criticism. In digitally rendered illustrations that employ striking vertical and horizontal lines, Na exhibits sound through vibrant colors and bold shapes against line art backgrounds, varying the style of each spread and increasingly warping the flat perspective as Cage experiments, fittingly representing his inventive music and spirit. Background characters are portrayed with various skin tones. Creators’ notes conclude. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)