Grade 3-6-A splendid alliance of topic, text, and illustration produces a hauntingly compelling biography. Erik Satie was not suited to his times; he battled a "terrible temper" and wrote music that was so unusual that it eluded popularity. After years of struggle, at age 39, he returned to school to learn the rules of music "so he could break them." In 1924, he collaborated with painter Francis Picabia on a ballet entitled Cancelled that included a movie, a cannon, and a camel. Shortly after its success, Satie died. Written with respect and compassion, this offering is an ideal introduction to a unique individual who had a significant influence on music. Mathers's illustrations are superb in their crisp, colorful clarity. The period, place, and bohemian brilliance of Satie's life are every bit as fascinating visually as textually. Though not for every reader, this picture-book biography should be embraced by anyone who cherishes the uncommon.
Jody McCoy, The Bush School, Seattle, WA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 1-3. Anderson, who gave us the delightful Handel, Who Knew What He Liked (2001), and Mathers, who illustrated the quirky Little Love Song (1992), team up for a deliciously offbeat look at the French composer Erik Satie, a very odd man who made very odd music: "like an old chant and wild tunes. . . mixed together." Satie threw the artist he loved out the window (but Suzanne Valadon was also an acrobat and survived), and he had some mighty peculiar personal habits (he didn't take baths, scraping himself with stones, instead). Mathers strikingly reflects the composer's life and times by using surrealistic elements in her pictures: Satie's piano's pedals look like a leg and foot; the hats people wear at the famous cafe Le Chat Noir might be plates or clocks or bumblebees. Anderson's text has a fine rhythm, and it doesn't shirk at the strangeness, making this suitable for older children, as well. An excellent author's note fills in the biography. GraceAnne DeCandido
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