- Hardcover: 40 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins - AU; Rei/Com edition (1 May 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780061236273
- ISBN-13: 978-0061236273
- ASIN: 0061236276
- Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 0.9 x 27.9 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 399 g
- Customer Reviews: 121 customer ratings
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 121,843 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Composer is Dead Hardcover – 1 May 2009
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About the Author
Lemony Snicket is often despondent, mostly about his published research, which includes A Series of Unfortunate Events and The Composer Is Dead.
Due to the world-wide web of conspiracy which surrounds him, Mr. Snicket often communicates with the general public through his representative, Daniel Handler. Mr. Handler has had a relatively uneventful life, and is the author of three books for adults, The Basic Eight, Watch Your Mouth, and Adverbs, none of which are anywhere near as dreadful as Mr. Snicket's.
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Review this product
Top international reviews
A beautifully illustrated book and a fully orchestrated and narrated CD in one.
Written in typical Lemony Snicket style, a word here which means with lots of unusual definitions of words.
The best way I can sum up this book would be to say that it is what happens when A Series of Unfortunate Events meets Peter and the Wolf.
If you or your children enjoyed his previous books you will love this.
This is the most adorable music pun ever and I am so excited to share this with my music classes when beginning to talk about practice, performing and the role of each instrument section.
The book, on the other hand, is a dud. The text is just a copy of the narration from the performance, which is much too wordy for a picture book, and the humor falls flat on the page. I like the illustrations, but I hoped they'd contribute to the introduction to the orchestra by showing all of the instruments. Instead, the instruments appear in silhouette (since they are suspects in the story) and some of them only appear in a shot of the entire orchestra.
From the mind of Lemony Snicket (late of "A Series of Unfortunate Events" fame) with music by Nathaniel Stookey, this tale opens on the unfortunate death of the titular composer (and with a silly joke at which I freely admit I may have chuckled a bit too much, but such is the lot of a music major). A dashing and "intelligent" detective is summoned, who vows to ferret out the despicable criminal from the sections of the orchestra.
As much fun as it was to read, it was equally pleasurable, if not more so, to hear the story realized with Stookey's music. Each passage of the composition is highly idiomatic. Classical music buffs are also likely to catch homages to various works in the modern repertory. Daniel Handler (our narrator and author) also adds some delightful touches in the CD that are simply not present in the book. The song of the French horns, for example, is side-splittingly funny.
The only "complaint" I have, if you can even call it a complaint, is that Snicket departs from his "ASoUE" illustrator, Brett Helquist. Carson Ellis does a fine job with this book, but after writing in excess of 13 books with the same illustrator, a Pavlovian response is all but inevitable.
Summary: Both adults and children will find something of value in this book. A good book for one's personal library.
I bought this for daughter for her sixth birthday, and her reaction, unexpectedly, was sheer terror. She literally shook with fear at the suspenseful-sounding music and couldn't understand the figurative concept of the "dead" composer. I thought that she must just be too young for the book, I'll put it away for her for a couple of years from now, but she later found it and freaked out again and demanded that I get rid of it. i gave it to a coworker with an eight- and four-year-old, warned her about my daughter's reaction, and she played it for her four-year-old. . . who absolutely loved it. Go figure. I think it is a fantastic book, but not the right fit for all kids.
Now, there is quite a bit of discussion about who did it - was it the brass or the strings? Snicket brings us along through a description of each type of instrument, with appropriate background accompaniment. Now, if this had been played in music class perhaps I would have retained something. My daughter delighted in picking up the distinct sounds of each instrument. There are clearly going to be allusions that the youngsters will miss, but that is what gives this "book" universal and long-lasting appeal.
Occasionally Snicket strays from the script, which can be a bit confusing as you turn the pages - especially for younger readers. However, as there is no page turn cue, this is not a book for young readers to listen to and follow along without a more experience reader. That said, the book itself does not need to be present - it is still rich without it. And, in fact, the CD also contains an instrument only portion.
The illustrations were a bit of a disappointment at first - the colors a bit washed out, a overabundance of browns, a lot of white space. However, after a few reads, I realized that in doing such the pictures do not detract but yet complement both the words and the CD. So... for what it is worth, I think they are appropriate to the experience, even if alone they are not completely impressive.
Without revealing the conclusion, at the end of the tale, Snicket reveals the names of famous composers, which brings us back into the educational arena. I cannot say enough about this "book". Plus, consider it an audio book, a paper book, AND a music lesson all in one.
Bottom line: I have about 10 people (kids to adults) lined up who will be receiving this book from me as gifts. It is THAT good. This should be adopted as music curricula in all schools.
The moment I saw Lemony Snicket's name on the cover of The Composer Is Dead at the library the other day, I knew I had to read it. I knew it would be funny; what I wasn't expecting was this musical masterpiece.
The story is somewhat basic: a composer has been murdered, and the detective must sound out the man, er, instrument who committed the crime. The text, however, isn't what makes this book so amazing.
This isn't just a picture book, nor is it just an audio book or just a soundtrack; it is an experience. The book is funny enough on its own, but play the accompanying cd with soundtrack, and it's even greater. The experience, however, doesn't reach fever pitch until you add in Snicket's exceptional narration (also included on the cd).
Daniel Handler, the man behind the Snicket, must have played in an orchestra at some point in his life. It's the only way to explain how all of the humor in The Composer Is Dead is spot on.
While marketed as a children's picture book, young children won't get most of the jokes. Instead, the musically inclined adult reading (or listening) to the book will be laughing to the point of hyperventilating.
Don't believe me? See the book trailer on the Amazon page, which demonstrates a bit of what I'm talking about.
I played this book for my stepmom, a concert cellist cum cello instructor. She laughed and nodded at all the jokes and one-liners, and then immediately went out to purchase a copy to share with her students.
I highly recommend this book as a gift for the music major/orchestra teacher/flautist in your life. If they've played in an orchestra, even just in high school, they will be rolling by the time the experience ends. Then buy a copy for yourself.
We all know that Lemony Snicket is a really good writer, but Nathaniel Stookey does a great job of writing the music and incorporating a variety of styles and voices that come together amazingly well toward the end. A bargain at twice the price. I hope it lives on as a classic.