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Barbara Nichol
Illustrated by Scott Cameron Toronto, Lester Publishing, 1993. 48pp, cloth, $16.95
ISBN 1-895555-21-3. Distributed by Nelson Canada. CIP

Subject Heading:
Beethoven, Ludwig van, 1770-1827-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 2-5 / Ages 7-10

Reviewed by Gillian Martin Noonan

Volume 22 Number 3
1994 May/June

Based on the audiocassette/CD of the same name, Beethoven Lives Upstairs by Barbara Nichol is the story of a young boy named Christoph who is at first quite upset when the composer Beethoven moves into his late father's upstairs office. Being completely deaf, Beethoven is neither aware of nor cares about the noise he creates. This, along with the composer's strange behaviour, is enough to cause Christoph to write to his uncle concerning the "madman" who has moved in upstairs.

Thus begins the correspondence between Christoph and his uncle, through which the reader learns about Beethoven's life as he works upon the Ninth Symphony. Christoph's growing acceptance of his life without his father and the friendship he develops with Beethoven while the two share the same address are also demonstrated in these letters.

Nichol's story is a most captivating one. Readers will eagerly turn the pages wondering how the relationship between Christoph and Beethoven will unfold. As if living downstairs from the famous composer, readers will easily learn much about Beethoven, making the man more of a reality for them. The full-page colour illustrations by Scott Cameron set the time period of the book quite well. Cameron also captures the many facets of Beethoven's emotional life on the composer's face, further illuminating Nichol's story.

Beethoven Lives Upstairs is a must have for any library collection. It provides interesting biographical details of the composer without being pedantic. All readers will enjoy Christoph's story and will understand his feelings of apprehension, compassion and joy in his short relationship with Beethoven.

This is an excellent beginning for further study of the composer, his music and his times.

Gillian Martin Noonan is a teacher-librarian living in Old Perlican, Newfoundland
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