Skip to content

14:14 PB ELEMENTS – The Extraordinary Music of Mr. Ives – CHARACTER

February 23, 2015

I myself wasn’t aware of this man’s story, or this author, until I pulled this book from the shelf and discovered this gold nugget of history and characterCharles Ives was not famous in his lifetime, but he is now considered a great American composer.  The music inside him finally has finally been heard.

The Extraordinary Music of Mr. Ives
author & illustratorMusic of Mr Ives
Joanne Stanbridge

(c) 2012,
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children

(1,260 words, AR Reading Level 3.0)

Centered around a huge tragedy many children will not be aware of, this story chronicles the emotional journey of a quiet insurance salesman in the early 1900’s.  The story of Charles Ives reveals something else that many children may not be aware of: that the passions inside of us are valid and worthwhile elements of our character.

This is revealed in a subtle fashion, as we first find Mr. Ives hearing music around him in busy New York city:

The ocean liner Lusitania is sailing from Pier 54. The whistle is so loud, it shakes the ground. A few people cover their ears–but not Mr. Ives. He grabs that sound with both hands and shapes it into a song.

He writes music that is as busy as a city street.  There are train whistles in it, and football games, and rowdy picnics and cars rushing past.

The click click click of adding machines and the murmur of good morning are so beautiful that he forgets to say good morning back.

Mr. Ives deals with numbers all day, but lets the music out at breaks. The music “lives inside him, like a friend.” We get the sense that our main character is lonely, except for his music, which many people don’t accept because it is different, “as bold as a city or as noisy as a traffic jam.”

I hope young readers will learn from this story that character is internal. It is not just how we react and interact with others and our circumstances, but why. Character arises from within people…from passion, sensitivity, emotion, devotion. Mr. Ives, his views unappreciated and his skills unrecognized, “writes his music down anyway.”

When the Lusitania is sunk by an enemy torpedo, Mr. Ives sadness overwhelms the music within him. The book beautifully reflects this silence with five wordless spreads illustrating the tragedy. The hush of the city is solid, and dampens his spirit. But then he hears a hurdy-gurdy player (organ grinder) slowly playing the music of a hymn:

“In the sweet bye and bye, we shall meet on that beautiful shore”

The music is “like a promise” and the crowd around him begins to sing.  The music returns, and he “mingles the old tune with street sounds.” The new music is titled From Hanover Square north, at the End of a Tragic Day, the Voice of the People Again Arose.

A sadness remains. It is almost 50 years before his music is recognized and appreciated.  But his passion, recorded over years in his loneliness, is eventually heard, loved, and accepted. The determination, deep emotion, and gifted sensitivity of a quiet man’s character stand the test of time.

(See a list of other reviewers’ posts in Christi’s latest post at Write Wild.)

Advertisements
3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 24, 2015 8:28 pm

    You really made a great point about character being internal. Very profound!

  2. Christie Wright Wild permalink
    February 24, 2015 10:05 pm

    Oh, wow. This is such an AMAZING story you shared about each person’s passions being important within us. It really resonated with me. What a great example of character. THANKS!

  3. February 28, 2015 5:14 pm

    well, I just learn some history. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

One Writer's Journey

About writing and research.

Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

Tying together poetry, parenting, and advertising in a neat little package

WordWranglerNC

WordNerd in Training

SevenAcreSky

WHY KIDS READ IS WHY I WRITE.

pernilleripp.wordpress.com/

Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension

Ella Kennen

Corvisiero Literacy Agency

Penny Parker Klostermann

Children's Author and Poet

Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

Blog & website of children's book author Tara Lazar

Stephen Swinburne's Blog

Steve Swinburne is a children's book author from Vermont with over 30 published books. His most recent book, "Sea Turtle Scientist", is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and on book shelves now!

POETIC BLOOMINGS

POETIC BLOOMINGS is a Phoenix Rising Poetry Guild site established in May 2011 to nurture and inspire the creative spirit.

Jason R. Kinsey

Ramblings on explorations of Creation.

pictured words

a simple pairing of pictures and poetry

lisarosewrites

Swimming from Shalom to Shazizzle

K Callard

Writer

Picture Book Playdate

Picture Books: Writing, Reading, Reviewing, Discussing

Mother Streusel

Mother Streusel's useless rhymes are full of nonsense and should be avoided if your doctor has prescribed a regimen of seriousness. Proceed with caution.

The Drawer Of M. M. Socks

Stories - Tall and Short for the Tall and Short

The Picture Book Review

Reviews of Children's Board Books, Picture Books, Activity Books, and Graphic Novels

Marcie Flinchum Atkins

Children's and Young Adult Writer

%d bloggers like this: