Becoming Bach – Tom Leonard


 Becoming Bach – Tom Leonard, A Neal Porter Book/Roaring Brook Press, (9781626722866), 2017

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1- 5 (5 is excellent or a Starred review)  4

Genre:  Biography

What did you like about the book?  The story of  Johann Sebastian Bach is brought to life through simple text and lyrical illustrations.  Readers will follow Bach’s life from childhood through his first position as a church organist.  We learn that “bach” in German means musician and that his family had been making music for over 200 years.  The illustrations of acrylic on illustration board are filled with flowing music notes that fill the pages like a song.  The book includes two vertical spreads, one of which shows Bach imagining the music he can create with seven notes as a variety of notes on staves form a castle reaching to the sky.  The book begins with the simple line “There was always music” with illustrations of people and instruments from the time periods leading up to Bach.  The book includes a more detailed biography, an author’s note, sources, websites and a “suggested listening” list.  This is a wonderful book to share in a music class or with a child interested in classical music.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  No

To whom would you recommend this book?  This is a wonderful introductory look at the composer that is perfect for younger children.  This would be good to use in a music class or to share with budding musicians.  Pair it with two other recent titles, Esquivel! Space-Age Sound Artist by Susan Wood and The Music in George’s Head: George Gershwin Creates Rhapsody in Blue  by Suzanne Slade for a look at how music continually shapes the lives of musicians.

Who should buy this book?  Public libraries and elementary school libraries

Where would you shelve it? Picture Book biographies

Should we (librarians/readers) put this at the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City:  Catherine Coyne, Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, MA

Date of review: 3/9/17             

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