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Music for the End of Time Hardcover – August 4, 2005

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers; Tra edition (August 4, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802852297
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802852298
  • Product Dimensions: 11.8 x 9.6 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #343,242 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 3-5–A poignant story of humanity, creativity, and survival. Olivier Messiaen, a well-known French composer, was captured by the Germans during World War II and taken to a prison camp. In her softly flowing watercolor paintings, Peck portrays him as a pale, bespectacled man clutching a pack of sheet music. For an unexplained reason, a German officer allowed the musician to use a small room to continue to write. Although he wondered if anyone would ever hear his work, he pressed on, finally finding inspiration in the song of a nightingale. The illustration shows the notes rising from his pen in a triumphant arch intertwined with songbirds. With the arrival of two new prisoners carrying instrument cases, Messiaen gained hope. Finally, the composition was performed by a quartet in front of 5000 prisoners. Again, this moment is reinforced with a scene that shows the darkness of the winter day and camp enlightened by the music as the notes–presented in bands of yellow and entwined with nightingales–flow above the audience. Use this book with other stories of triumph over suffering, such as Ken Mochizuki's Baseball Saved Us (Lee & Low, 1993) or Louise Borden's The Greatest Skating Race (S & S, 2004). Better yet, play Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time as you read it.–Jane Marino, Bronxville Public Library, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 4-7. Based on a true World War II incident that took place in 1941, this handsome picture book tells a story of kindness from the enemy and of the power of music. In the German camp Stalag 8A, a young officer allowed a captured French soldier, Olivier Messiaen, to compose music in a small room in the toilets, and then to play what he wrote (the now-famous composition "Quartet for the End of Time") with three other prisoners in a concert attended by 5,000 prisoners in the camp. The Germans found a run-down piano for Messiaen; they found a cello for another prisoner musician; two others were allowed to keep the instruments they brought with them. Bryant tells the fictionalized biography in clear poetic prose, and Peck's beautiful charcoal-and-pastel double-page spreads never downplay the harshness of the crowded barracks and the desolate lines of sad, sometimes wounded prisoners, even as they show the composer close up and the nightingales whose calls inspire the wild and beautiful music. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on February 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Music for the End of Time is a children's picturebook based on the true story of French composer Olivier Messiaen, who was captured by the Germans during World War II and sent to a prison camp in Gorlitz (now part of Poland). Despite the bleak living conditions, he received the gift of a small miracle - the opportunity to write music again. With the aid of three fellow musicians also taken prisoner, the song of a beautiful nightingale, and the permission of a German officer, he was able to compose and play the now-famous "Quartet for the End of Time", in a performance appreciated like no other by his fellow prisoners. The emotionally touching pastel illustrations add the perfect quality to this simple story about keeping hope alive in the darkness.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Music for the End of Time would be perfect as PART of a unit on the Holocaust. Messian brought hope to all in Stalag 8A and that is amazing. My suggestion is that before you read the book, start off by letting students listen to the "Quartet for the End of Time" by Olivier Messian (I use a video of a violinist from YouTube). Ask students what they hear, the feeling conveyed by the composer, etc. Then, play it in the background as you read this book. At the end of the story, ask them the same questions. It makes the hope, music, and Messian come alive to students. If you are looking for a book to introduce the Holocaust, then I highly recommend Terrible Things by Eve Bunting.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Roger Petrich on March 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Quartet for the End of Time" is a 20th century classic, but hardly an item that most children would relate to. The music demands sophisticated listening for most adults, though like any music a listener may choose just to daydream with or without Messiaen's own descriptive commentary. The children's storybook format is charming on its own, though the depiction of a POW camp is heavily sugar-coated. "Schindler's List" this is not! "Music for the end of time" hardly evokes the brutal harmonies or mystic vision of the actual music, but might just get someone started down the path to exploring a composer well worth discovering, especially in this [2008] his centennial year.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jewish Book World Magazine on October 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This story is based on the experience of Olivier Messiaen, a Christian French composer. In 1941, he is detained in a German prison camp, but he is granted permission to play a piano and compose his music. A German officer leads him to the piano and he eventually becomes inspired by the song of a nightingale, which he translates into a sonata. Two new prisoners arrive carrying their instruments in cases and before long, voila!-- chamber music for a camp concert in front of 5,000 prisoners. The camp is described as desolate, and the first illustration does show a dejected line of khaki-clad prisoners being guarded through the gates by German guards and a dog. The prisoners are sent to their barracks where they receive non-striped khaki uniforms and mattresses made of straw, but the lovely pastel illustrations down play the harshness of the surroundings. There is no Jewish content.. The now-famous piece Messiaen composed there, is: Quartet for the End of Time. For ages 8 and up. Reviewed by Marcia Posner
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More About the Author

Jen Bryant writes picture books, novels and poems for readers of all ages. Her biographical picture book: A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams, illustrated by Melissa Sweet,received a Caldecott Honor award and her historical novel in verse Ringside 1925: Views from the Scopes Trial is an Oprah Recommended Book for ages 12 & up. Other titles include Pieces of Georgia (IRA Young Adult Choices Pick), The Trial (about the 1935 Lindbergh baby kidnapping trial), a 1960's-era novel Kaleidoscope Eyes (a Jr. Library Guild selection), Georgia's Bones, celebrating the creative vision of artist Georgia O'Keeffe, Music for the End of Time, based on a true story about WWII, and Abe's Fish: A Boyhood Tale of Abraham Lincoln.

Jen has taught writing and Children's Literature at West Chester University and Bryn Mawr College and gives lectures, workshops and school presentations throughout the year. She lives with her family in Chester County, PA.

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