Thursday, November 26, 2009

Mozart in the future by Tania Rodrigues-Peters, illustrated by Pedro Caraca, translated by Paula Vaz-Carreiro

In the interests of full disclosure, I will first say that I don't like Mozart. In fact, I don't really like any of the Classical composers. (In case you are wondering, I like J. S. Bach, Alan Rawsthorne, Henry Purcell, Prokofiev, Mussorgsky, and Poulenc, to give a few examples). I did not listen to Mozart while reading this, as suggested by the author. I was/am listening to Live! At the Concertgebouw but they're playing Bartok, which I like in small doses. Anyways.

This is a very...strange story. An ambitious mother, constantly pushing her son to improve his music, holds Mozart up as a role model. Max has a nervous breakdown and has to stay home, stop playing the piano, and rest. Um...and then a beautiful sort of fairy shows up who turns out to be the Spirit of Music. Max explains that he really wants to play, but he just can't and she asks who he'd like to help him. He calls Mozart. He...gets Mozart. Mozart doesn't get the modern world at all, but enjoys it anyways. Eventually, the spirit explains to Max that he does have talent even if he's not a genius, Mozart goes back to his own time and Max's parents and the doctor try to convince him it was all a dream but he knows it wasn't.

The illustrations are a kind of mixture of fantasy and cartoon and are rather attractive with long, flowing lines.

Asides from the plot, the major problems with this book are the length, format, and syntax. Although the book is only 100 pages long, the text is very dense, much too lengthy for a beginning chapter book. There are no quotation marks, instead, dialogue is marked with a music note at the beginning - but not at the end, so it's difficult to tell when the dialogue ends. The syntax is very odd. I couldn't figure out from the biographical information at the back what language this was translated from; the author appears to have come from Sao Paulo, although she now lives in Austria. Some examples:

"Max is a boy who loves music and who has been studying the piano for years because it has always been his favourite instrument. But the problem is his mother who demands too much of him and does not give the time to play with other boys."

"[music note] I don't know but, personally, I don't miss it at all -- Mozart says showing little interest in the so-called Internet."

I'm guessing translated from German (Austrian German is a standard variety of "regular" German. Your interesting fact of the day) but I may be wrong.

Verdict: Not recommended because of the length of the text, odd syntax, difficult punctuation, and unappealing plot. If you happen to have any young fans of Classical music (I don't at my library) they're going to be more interested in actual biographies of their favorite composers or possibly general histories or historical fiction set in the time period.

ISBN: 978-3950280401; Published August 2009 by the author; Review copy provided by the author for Cybils


ReadingTub said...

I started reading this last night and had very similar thoughts. For me, the density of the text and vocabulary choices really stuck out.

Carsten said...
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Jennifer said...

The previous comment has been removed because it linked to a paid review site. I don't allow links to commercial entities on my blog.

Jennifer said...

All comments on this review are now CLOSED.