Although the subtitle calls Charles Ives a famous American composer, few children will be familiar with his music, an experimental sound that took inspiration from everything: city noise to amateur musicians to sporting events. This book focuses on a particular moment in Ives’ life, when he was moved to create music after learning about the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915. Readers follow Ives as he hears the newsboys hawking the headlines. A series of wordless panels follow that capture the terror of one small girl (identified in the notes as Helen Smith) who was saved from the sinking ship. Back in New York, on a subway platform, a hurdy-gurdy player cranking out the hymn “In the Sweet By-and-By” ignites the commuters to sing. At home, Ives “mingles the old tune with street sounds,” and the music eventually becomes part of his Orchestral Set No. 2. Without an accompanying CD, this will touch readers more because of the events than through any connection with the music. But the almost cartoon-style watercolors have a poignant pull that should also draw children. Grades 1-3. --Ilene Cooper
"Unthreatening despite its subject matter, yet impressively moving."
"Stanbridge writes well for young children, with a straightforward bu absorbing text."
—New York Times Book Review
"Stanbridge's work is its own curious, yet quietly inspired composition, a meditative ode to an artist."