Bibliographic Information: Snicket, L., Ellis, C., & Stookey, N. (2009). The composer is dead. New York, NY: HarperCollins.
Brief Annotation: The Composer is Dead is an introduction to the sections of an orchestra as told through a murder mystery. The Inspector attempts to solve the case by interviewing the various sections of the orchestra. The book ends with the inspector realizing that many composers are dead, but we keep them “alive” by playing their music. The paper copy of the book includes an audio cd that features the story being read aloud with an original score composed by Nathaniel Stookey to support the text.
Genre: Contemporary Realistic Fiction
Grade Level: K-12
Readers who will like this: Readers who enjoy mysteries; readers who enjoy classical music; readers who are curious about the orchestra.
Rating/Response: 4.5; I love this book, and I love that the author and composer collaborated to create this new take on introducing the orchestra through a story (as has previously been done with Peter and the Wolf, among others). As with much of Snicket’s collected bibliography, the story has a bit of a morbid twist, as well as clever wordplay (“This is called composing. […] This is called decomposing.”).
One question you would ask before a read aloud: There are many different kinds of music, like jazz and hip hop. What other kinds of music can you think of?