Reviewer Amy Lignor: Amy is the author of a historical fiction novel entitled The Heart of a Legend, and Mind Made, a work of science fiction. Presently, she is writing an adventure series set in the New York Public Library, as well as a teen fiction series, The Angel Chronicles. She is an avid traveler and has been fortunate to have journeyed across the USA, where she has met the most amazing people, who truly bring life and soul to her books. She lives in the Land of Enchantment (for now) with her gorgeous daughter, Shelby, her wonderful Mom, Mary, and the greatest friend and critic in the entire world - her dog, Reuben
Author: Tania Maria Rodrigues-Peters
Illustrator: Pedro Caraca
To sleep. Perchance to
This children's book is unbelievably beautiful, and the morals it teaches are as beneficial for adults as they are for children. To me, it's on par with The Polar Express, and the mystery of Santa Claus. It teaches belief, faith, hope, and magic that should be carried inside our hearts into adulthood.
We begin in a small village located in Vorarlberg, Austria. This is a place where "nature took pains to be beautiful." (Don't you love that line?) Immediately we, the readers, look around at the mountains covered in a glistening blanket of snow; and stare up at a wooden house with a lovely terrace and a garden that is covered in flowers and vegetables, depending on the season. A young boy named Max lives in this stunning location with his parents. His mother, Astrid, (who is a huge fan of Mozart) bakes mouthwatering food in their kitchen and dreams of her children becoming well-known performers in the theatre or opera-house. She's a strict, but living mom; she wants her son and daugther to do well, like all us mothers do, so she tends to push Max into practicing his piano playing constantly. Although Max sits and stares out his window at the children playing in the streets, he listens to his mother and tries very hard to become better and better at his music. His father, Mark, tries to tell his wife to lay off his son once in a while - not to push him so much - or Max will end up hating the piano because he's forced to play instead of wanting to play. Although Mom tries to give Max some space to be a kid, it's almost impossible for her, and Max begins to spend alot of time alone and upset, wishing for a friend his own age to play with.
For a brief moment, the author brings us back in time to a young boy feeling the same way. He plays his piano and loves his music, but his father is very adament that he work on it for hours and hours. After all, he's already been good enough to play for kings and queens - so little Mozart needs to keep practicing so he can someday go down in history as the greatest composer of all time. Mozart, too, looks out his window at the children playing outside. A part of him wishes for the freedom to join them and have a little fun while he's still young.
Back in the present, Max runs to a small cabin that his father built for him and sits inside, feeling very gloomy and alone. When suddenly, out of nowhere, a beautiful woman with violet eyes and hair comes across the snow to his door. She tells him she is the Spirit of Music. She knows that Max is depressed and she doesn't want him to lose the will to play his pinao. She disappears and across the snow comes a strangely dressed child who looks lost. Max rnds from the cabin and invites the boy in. And, sure enough, realizes that the small, confused boy is actually his mother's favorite composer - Mozart. But how did Mozart travel from the eighteenth century to meet Max?
The fun ensues in this enchantng tale as Mozart discovers the amazing creations that the centuries have provided. He is astounded by the fact that a person can call their mother on a small black contraption called a cell phone. He is enthralled when he realizes that the big, strange box in the corner can come on with the touch of a button and play something called cartoons for his amusement; the box is absolutely mesmerizing. And the MP3 player makes Mozart's jaw drop in awe. The most adorable part for me is when Max mentions the internet. Mozart replies, "I have not had the pleasure of knowing that lady. Madam Internet! Is she a princess or a queen?" He also meets "pierced and colorful gentlemen" who his new friend, Max, calls punks. He is treated to hundreds of flavors of ice cream that make his mouth water; in his time he only had chocolate, strawberry and vanille to choose from. Mozart is amazed when Max says the world calls him a genius, when MOzart beieves that the person who created the TV is the real genius.
What Mozart does miss, however, is his piano. So Max makes sure the house is empty and takes the musical genius to his piano at home to let Mozart play. Sure enough, the music lifts Max into another world. I found it absolutely wonderful when Mozart says tht playing music, to him, is like fooling around; he gets lost in the fun and playfulness of it all. When he plays his piano, he's free. Royalty has told the young Mozart that when he plays they can actually hear his heart laughing with joy. (This is how writing makes me feel, so I completely understood.)
Soon, Max's family finds out about the young stranger, and Max must find a way to get Mozart home, safe and sound. An adventure begins on trains and buses until the two young boys are standing outside Mozart's yellow house. But the Spirit soon returns and lets them know that Mozart can't just walk in - not two centuries later - because the past would mingle with the present and poor Mozart could end up mad as a hatter. So they wait for a sign, which comes in the form of an eclipse.
This story is absolutely wonderful and teaches so much to young and old alike. I love it when the Spirit explains about passion and dreams. She makes the boys understand that all humankind needs creative people, people with a deep love and feeling of their craft, in order to survive. The world has evolved in the areas of technology and science, which is good, but the world also needs the art, music, and written words that touch the human heart and send it soaring to unimaginable places. She also makes us understand that if you give up your destiny, give up your dreams, that you risk getting bitter as you get older. When people stop creating, art and music will die, and with each day the world will grow sadder and paler...
All ages should read this book. If you're a kid, you'll learn that passion is a wonderful thing to have for something you love to do, and with the right balance of hard work - you can achieve anything you put your mind to. If you're an adult, you'll learn that even though life throws some curve balls and the world is gray some days, the passion you have in your heart needs to be revived. The eternal flame in your soul that holds your faith and dreams needs to survive and blossom - no matter what stands in your way.
Bravo to the author! And bravo to the illustrator, because the accompanying sketches in this book were highly enjoyable. This is the author's first book. And I hope that children's librarians across the globe purchase it so that it becomes a 'staple' for children and adults everywhere.
Until Next Time,