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Mozart Finds a Melody Hardcover – August 12, 2004

4.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.

From Booklist

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 Mattson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 4
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); First Edition edition (September 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805066276
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805066272
  • Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 0.3 x 10.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,112,124 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

By Susan Godel on September 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I love this book and so do my kids. It has a clever and charming storyline that weaves in a child's first look at a musical score, a few landmarks of 18th century Vienna, the excitement of a musical premiere, the effort of creating and composing. But mostly it's a fun tale beautifully illustrated with an affectionate characterization of Mozart that completely delights children. It is a wonderful book in every respect. I wish there were a whole series from this author/illustrator bringing other composers to life for this age group.
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Format: Hardcover
My son who is 6 years old says, "You should get it!".

This beautiful story has inspired my son to listen for music in the city as we go through our day. He often wonders aloud how Mozart would use a certain sound(like say for instance, our city bus) if Mozart was composing a new piece of music. We love this story.
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Format: Hardcover
Wolfgang Mozart must compose a new tune that will be heard in the famous Burgtheater in Vienna by Saturday evening. But poor Mozart can't think of any notes to write. Alas, he is suffering from writer's block. Until his hungry pet starling, Miss Bimms, sings a melody and gets his brain flowing. However, before he can begin writing the notes down on paper, Miss Bimms escapes through the window, and Mozart begins searching the town for the little starling. On his short trip through Vienna, Mozart begins to realize that his little town is filled with inspiring sounds, and is able to set to work on his composition once and for all.

Stephen Costanza's new children book is nothing short of enchanting. The wonderful prose contained within the pages is lovely, and flows much like a melody itself. While his gorgeous illustrations contained on every page couldn't be better. This is a wonderful book for all, whether you're a Mozart fan or not.

Erika Sorocco

Book Review Columnist for The Community Bugle Newspaper
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Format: Hardcover
As a musicologist and professional musician, I adored this charming book. There is some possibility that indeed the pet bird did in fact sing something like this melody for the concerto in question (#17 in G for piano and orchestra, third movement), according to Mozart's own catalogue. That isn't what's important. What IS important is that the book is charming and that my 4 year old LOVED it. Of course, I sang Ms. Bims' melody for her (a CD would be good for non-musicians) and then we listened to the movement of the concerto together. My daughter now adores, ADORES, Mozart, having played other tunes for her as well and other whole pieces. She still loves to sing "Miss Bims' melody!"
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