From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3–In this fictionalized version of how the composer wrote his "Piano Concerto no. 17 in G Major," Mozart is facing a case of writer's block and a looming deadline. His pet starling begins to sing and the notes provide a fine melody. When the young man opens her cage, she flies out. He looks for her all over the city but doesn't find her. However, the sounds of the streets give him additional inspiration so that he can complete the piece and perform it as planned. During the concert, Miss Bimms hears the music and flies to the theater where she is reunited with her owner. Done in gouache, acrylic, and colored pencil, the sepia-toned illustrations provide beautifully detailed glimpses of Vienna and the concert hall. Unfortunately, Mozart is shown with a round head, big eyes, and wild hair–slightly stylized features that give him the appearance of a Cabbage Patch doll. There is a silliness about the story that seems to detract from the man and his talent. In an author's note, Costanza indicates the source for his ideas. Though not outstanding, this tale can be used to introduce Mozart and to open discussion about how a composer might get inspiration from life around him.–Susan Lissim, Dwight School, New York City
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
K-Gr. 2. Mozart, it seems, kept a pet starling that learned a tune from one of his concertos. In Costanza's second picture book (the first book that he has also written), the author-illustrator takes this fact and extrapolates, imagining how the songbird's chirping might have nudged the composer out of a creative slump. When his "little beaked bagatelle" escapes just before an important deadline, Mozart scours the streets to no avail. Luckily, rattling carts, squawking geese, hollering vendors, and other city noises provide inspiration aplenty to complete the symphony, the familiar strains of which guide the lost bird home. It's a shame that the fantasy is never balanced with the biographical facts kids will crave, and the narrative feels somewhat stiff. Despite that, Costanza is an illustrator to watch. Blending the burnished palette and twirling energy of Raul Colon, the softness of Leonid Gore, and a sense of fun that trills to a melody all its own, his paintings offer an ingenious view of eighteenth-century Vienna. Jennifer MattsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved