Reading/Interest Level: Primary
Author: Joanne Stanbridge
Illustrator: Joanne Stanbridge
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Mr. Ives hears music in everything. He hears it in the sounds of the city streets, in conversations, and in the office. Mr. Ives takes the sounds of everyday noise and molds them into songs. People don’t appreciate his music much because to them it sounds like noise. One day, Mr. Ives hears that an ocean liner, the Lusitania, was attacked and sunk. As Mr. Ives goes to work that day, the city seems hushed except when waiting for his train, he hears someone playing a song and the people nearby start singing and humming it together. It seems to help heal their pain to share that moment with strangers. Mr. Ives writes a song when he gets home. That song, years after Mr. Ives has died, becomes a legacy.
Charles Ives was a contemporary composer who introduced the concept of giving musical voice to noises. This book is a non-fiction picture book but reads like a story which makes it an easy way to introduce children to history and a famous composer. The story is infused with true life events that are adult in nature, such as war. The sadness and tragedy that came with the sinking of the Lusitania is portrayed in the illustrations and in the text. There are so many educational opportunities that have not been explained in a glossary, such as the mentioning of certain songs, operas, ballets, concerts, historical events, and antique contraptions. At the back of the book, there is a page with a short biography of Charles Ives and suggestions for further study. It is a wonderful book to encourage further study.
*Contains mild violence.