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What Charlie Heard.

by Mordicai Gerstein. Farrar, Straus & Giroux (19 Union Square West, New York, NY 10003), 2002. 37 pp., $17.

If you teach music lessons to children, enrich your own children with substantive but engaging reading material, or simply enjoy good children's books, treat yourself to a copy of What Charlie Heard, written and illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein.

This biography of Charles Ives is written as a story using vividly descriptive and easily accessible language for children perhaps as young as 3 through those of lower elementary school age.

The story presents salient experiences in Ives's life that influenced his music. His early years were filled with sounds, which ultimately found their way into his compositions. Page after page in this picture book presents those sounds written textually around the drawings, just begging children to vocally imitate the noisy environment. Ives's music also was profoundly affected by poignant people and events in his life--a creative and devoted father who directed a brass band, holiday parades, thunderstorms, his chosen career in the insurance business--all producing an atmosphere rich in sound and creative possibilities.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of this book is the way the illustrations enhance the storyline. Each page is filled with colorful pictures and text, creating a visual image that is just a little bit cluttered--as some might describe Ives's music. For teachers and parents knowledgeable about Ives's compositions, this book portrays events foreshadowing particular pieces. A short "adult" synopsis of his life is provided at the back of the book with a few suggestions of sample listening materials corresponding to the stories told in the book.

Whether you are interested in providing students with some background information on a famous composer, nurturing interactive reading or creating a music appreciation lesson, this book stands above many other children's books about music because of its readability, historically accurate information and distinctive illustrations. The author's previous artistic and literary endeavors have met with critical acclaim. This book should add more to his list of honors. Reviewed by Jane Cassidy, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
COPYRIGHT 2002 Music Teachers National Association, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2002, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:Cassidy, Jane
Publication:American Music Teacher
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Dec 1, 2002
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