Title: Beethoven Lives UpstairsBeethoven Lives Upstairs
Author: Barbara Nichol
Illustrator: Scott Cameron
Pages: 48
Recommended Ages: 8-10
Star Rating: ★★★★

Ludwig van Beethoven. The materful composer who created impassioned sonatas and harmonious symphonies. The troubled genius.

The Story.

Ever since Christoph’s father died, there has been a void in the home. A void which has left Christoph lonely, despite the fact that his mother and two younger siblings are still there to love him. It just isn’t the same without Father.

And then comes a lodger. A lodger whom Christoph’s Uncle Karl recommended – and who is moving into Father’s old study!  Such an act alone is intolerable, but to Christoph, this man – this Ludwig van Beethoven – is an intolerable through and through. He appears to be quite insane, and he is constantly banging on one piano or another, making more fuss and racket than even Christoph’s little twin sisters.

Will Christoph come to appreciate the musical genius of Beethoven?

Discussion.

Christoph is a lonely boy – his father has died, and his mother is completely absorbed by his baby twin  sisters, with whom he does not get along. He is frustrated when Beethoven first moves in – after all, he’s maniacal and is destroying father’s study – but over time Christoph develops compassion for the man.

The story is told in epistolary form as a series of letters between Christoph and his Uncle Karl. I enjoyed watching the tender way Uncle Karl handled Christoph’s angers and insecurities and helped him to see the troubled man behind the rude front.

On one page, Christoph writes that Mr. Beethoven could be seen naked through the window to his room. An illustration is included which shows people standing in the street and pointing at a window where Beethoven is shown from the back with no shirt on.  The window sill begins just where it needed to – or perhaps a few inches too low. The next page over shows Beethoven, again with no shirt.

Christoph tells one lie, but untruthfulness as a rule is not a struggle for him.

Conclusion. Good – children will enjoy this vicarious experience of what it might have been like to live with Beethoven.

Review © 2014 Laura Verret

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