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What Charlie Heard Hardcover – 18 Mar 2002


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux (18 Mar. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374382921
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374382926
  • Product Dimensions: 24.8 x 0.9 x 27.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,339,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bob Zeidler on 23 Aug. 2004
Format: Hardcover
(sung to the melody of "If I were a rich man...")
Why, I'd be reading him this splendid illustrated children's book!
What on earth is an heirless geezer like me doing, reviewing a children's book? Well, that's a reasonable question. The only sensible answer that I can come up with is that I'm simply somewhere in the middle of my second childhood, "up to my eyeballs in Ives."
Mordicai Gerstein prefaces this enjoyable children's book with the statement "Everything I know about Charles Ives I learned from listening to his music, and from my dear friend, Jan Swafford, whose epic biography, 'Charles Ives: A Life with Music,' was the main source and inspiration for this book." And so it is that Jan Swafford has also been the main source and inspiration for my own second childhood with Charlie Ives. I can actually date my "second childhood" study of the life and music of Charlie to the time I was reading a borrowed copy of his Ives biography while awaiting my own copy.
The narrative text of "What Charlie Heard" (all accurate, and admirably complete, by the way) is quite brief; probably not much more than a few hundred words in total. (While no expert on the matter, I believe that the narrative can be read by a child of 7 or 8. In fact, I provided a copy of this book to a friend's son for his 8th birthday. But I wouldn't consider him "average" by any definition; very precocious would be more like it. Hopefully he didn't find it to be boring.)
Is it possible that a book so brief in its narrative text can actually "tell" the story about Charlie Ives and his life with music, with all of its "ups" and "downs"? Sure it can! All one needs to do is to pay heed to the remarkable illustrations, and to take the time necessary for pulling out all of the clues hidden in these illustrations.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 10 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Listen...Music is Everywhere..... 28 April 2002
By Roz Levine - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
"Charles Ives was born with his ears wide open. The very first sound he heard might have been his father's trumpet announcing his birth to the town of Danbury, Connecticut." During his life, no matter where he was or what he was doing, Charlie heard the wonder of music in the everyday sounds around him. It could be the rustle of his mother's dress, the tick of a clock, the hooves of horses clip-clopping down the street, or the ice cream man's bell. Charlie heard music in a bat hitting a baseball, the rumble of thunder, the applause and cheers of a crowd, and a train's bell and whistle. As he got older, Charlie wrote "music about things he'd heard or seen, or feelings he had. But sometimes it was just to hear how different notes would sound together." Charlie grew up, graduated from college, got married, and started a successful insurance company. But he never stopped writing his music. "It was a new kind of music. It didn't have to be pretty, it had to be true to his feelings... But most people didn't know how to listen to it. Some thought it was a joke. Others just heard noise and got angry." Finally, when Charles Ives was very old, musicians began to play and perform his music, and people began to hear what Charlie heard. "Maybe, if you open your ears like Charlie, you can hear the beautiful, funny, sad, joyous, amazing music he heard..." Mordecai Gerstein has written a spectacular introductory biography that really captures the essence of Charles Ives and his music. His simple, straightforward text is both engaging and informative. But it's Mr Gerstein's creative and inventive artwork that really makes this book stand out and sparkle. His busy and detailed illustrations are packed with sound effects, swirling around the pages, in all shapes, sizes, and colors. The visual becomes the audible, and readers will begin to "hear" the magic of music in the world around them, just like Charlie. Perfect for youngsters 8-12, What Charlie Heard is a marvelous, evocative story about an extraordinary composer, the entire family can savor, share, and enjoy together. And once you've finished reading, it's time to listen to some of Charles Ives' music, so that you can hear what Charlie heard.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
"If I had my own son..." 23 Aug. 2004
By Bob Zeidler - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
(sung to the melody of "If I were a rich man...")

Why, I'd be reading him this splendid illustrated children's book!

What on earth is an heirless geezer like me doing, reviewing a children's book? Well, that's a reasonable question. The only sensible answer that I can come up with is that I'm simply somewhere in the middle of my second childhood, "up to my eyeballs in Ives."

Mordicai Gerstein prefaces this enjoyable children's book with the statement "Everything I know about Charles Ives I learned from listening to his music, and from my dear friend, Jan Swafford, whose epic biography, 'Charles Ives: A Life with Music,' was the main source and inspiration for this book." And so it is that Jan Swafford has also been the main source and inspiration for my own second childhood with Charlie Ives. I can actually date my "second childhood" study of the life and music of Charlie to the time I was reading a borrowed copy of his Ives biography while awaiting my own copy.

The narrative text of "What Charlie Heard" (all accurate, and admirably complete, by the way) is quite brief; probably not much more than a few hundred words in total. (While no expert on the matter, I believe that the narrative can be read by a child of 7 or 8. In fact, I provided a copy of this book to a friend's son for his 8th birthday. But I wouldn't consider him "average" by any definition; very precocious would be more like it. Hopefully he didn't find it to be boring.)

Is it possible that a book so brief in its narrative text can actually "tell" the story about Charlie Ives and his life with music, with all of its "ups" and "downs"? Sure it can! All one needs to do is to pay heed to the remarkable illustrations, and to take the time necessary for pulling out all of the clues hidden in these illustrations. And, while it isn't necessarily possible to figure out from the narrative and the illustrations just what Charlie Ives's music sounds like, the youthful reader should certainly come away with the expectation that the music sounds "different," given how it was that pretty much everything in Charlie's life and environment found its way into his music in one form or another. And that may be "half the battle," as they say, toward an early appreciation of America's greatest composer.

I know-rather directly-that Jan Swafford admires Mordicai Gerstein's book on Ives as much as Gerstein admires Swafford's. So I just had to take a look at it. (I never did have an opportunity to see the earlier copy that had been a birthday present; it was a "drop ship.") Now I've got my own copy, I've seen and read it, and I'm impressed. But what next?

Well, given the circumstances, perhaps I'll just read this really neat book to my cat. He's about the right age in "human years": between 7 and 8 as I write this. And he's listened to Charlie's music along with me, without raising a noticeable fuss.

And his name happens to be Charlie. And, no, it's no accident. :-)

Bob Zeidler
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Introduction and Explanation 2 Feb. 2003
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I once heard an organist describe Charles Ives "America" in this way--a small town on the Fourth of July, where every band wants to perform in the parade, so they all agree to play the one song they know: 'America.' But they all play it differently. Ives's arrangment depicts the infinite complexity of all the bands' variations. This book not only show where he might have gotten an inspiration for this piece, but for all his other music also.
However, I think the most eloquent illustration is what Charlie heard when he got the news that his father had died. The depiction of total silence is a stark and effective contrast to the cacaphony of the rest of the book. This book can be used to introduce Ives' music to those unfamiliar with it, to explain it to those who don't understand it, or to increase the enjoyment of someone who already appreciates it.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A Wonderfull Book 19 Nov. 2003
A Kid's Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This a great book filled with lot's of noise but if you open your ears lide Charlie did you'll hear not only noise but music.
Charlie Ive's is a boy who hears everything as music wether it's the sirens of a firetruck driving by or the drip drop of rain on the ground. Charlie loved music and so did his father his father was a conducter when he would conduct a band Charlie would make noise. charlie grew up and wrote his own music. When charlie would play it some people got mad and said this is not music this is noise. Charlie would say if you open your ears you will hear what I hear.
I'm not going to spoil the rest of the book for you. But maybe if you open your ears you'll hear what Charlie heard, not noise, but music.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Lovely read 9 April 2002
By Kathleen A. Baxter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Somewhere I read that poetry gives you goosebumps, and that is what I got when I read this stunning book about Charles Ives. It is simple but dead on, fascinating, intriguing, and made me want to get some Charles Ives recordings immediately. I cannot imagine that many children will not be equally affected.
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