The Mozart Season

Our rating: ***½

Allegra Shapiro, a twelve-year-old violinist, is confronted with the opportunity to perform in the Bloch Competition finals—and she accepts, even though she’s certain she’ll be the youngest player. Mozart’s fourth violin concerto is what she must learn. And so begins “the Mozart season” of her life, in which Allegra focuses on practicing. As the summer progresses, she learns not just the Mozart piece, but about people, music, and herself.

While it’s not bursting with plot, The Mozart Season is still an interesting read, especially for musicians, and at times it’s quite touching. My main objection to the book is the overuse of a kind of “scattered train of thought,” first-person writing style. It is effective in conveying Allegra’s young point of view, but it comes across too strongly, in my opinion. For the most part, however, I enjoyed the book. It’s not going on my list of favorites, but I consider it a very worthwhile read.

Manuelo the Playing Mantis

Our rating: ****

Manuelo the mantis loves music, and he spends a lot of his time listening to outdoor concerts. One day, he decides to try making an instrument that he could play. Try as he might, nothing works out, and he gets very discouraged. Then, a small spider offers her help, and together they try one last time.

I’d never heard of this book until just recently, but I’m glad I found it. It may not be one of Don Freeman’s most popular books, but the story is unique and sweet. I definitely encourage everyone who enjoys this author’s books (or anyone who enjoys music) to look into Manuelo the Playing Mantis.