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Beethoven for Kids Review by Jennifer Ladewig

Helen Bauer
Chicago Review Press

Beethoven for Kids – His Life and Music with 21 Activities is a wonderful introduction to Beethoven’s prodigious music and his tremendous influence on the world of classical music for children. The paperback book is 129 pages in length. Each chapter is full of pictures, historical side notes, fun activities, games, musical challenges, recipes, historical figures, and more. There are 10 chapters included in the book. The book retails for $18.99.

The book is intended to be read chapter by chapter. Each chapter is between 7 and 13 pages in length. The book is intended for ages 9+ and grades 4+. This book would work well for both the homeschool as well as the classroom. To give you an idea of what your child will learn let us explore a chapter. Chapter 1, entitled, Vibrating Sounds, explores the early years of Beethoven’s life. Beethoven from an early age was said to be very gifted musically. In school, Beethoven struggled with every subject and his teachers often complained. They describe how children used “hornbooks, which were pieces of wood with a handle on which a lesson was attached then covered with a thin piece of horn to keep the page clean. Ludwig’s hornbook was always messy, and the paper containing his lesson was often torn and blurry.” There are instructions given to Make a Hornbook and Quill Pen. Also, in the chapter, there are instructions for a game called, Blind and Bell. Side notes on, The Industrial Revolution, The Patronage System, and a Music Notes: What is Improvisation? is included within the chapter. The first chapter takes readers from Beethoven’s birth through about age 6. Important musical terms appear in bold print. There is a glossary in the back of the book with musical terms and their definitions.

I thought that this book was very illuminating into the life of one of the world's most talented composers, Ludwig Van Beethoven. Helen Bauer does a fantastic job of capturing Beethoven’s life. She sensitively included many difficult situations within his family. She did not shy away from Beethoven’s negative character traits. Beethoven studied under Haydn and Haydn said that Beethoven an independent attitude, hot temper, was often impatient and unreasonable. With that said, it was Beethoven’s determination that eventually made him who he would become in the world of great composers and musicians. He was a musical genius of his time. He did not care what critics had to say. His music was highly sought after and heard by many. The book does a wonderful job of keeping a child’s attention. My 11-year-old enjoyed learning about Beethoven and his life. She enjoyed the activities throughout the book. One of her favorite activities was to, Make a Model Eardrum. Everyone knows that at the age of 31 Beethoven began to experience hearing loss. He was experiencing tinnitus, which is ringing in the ears. Another fun activity that she liked was to Make Austrian Apple Pancakes. Beethoven enjoyed Vienna and the food, one being apple pancakes.

I would highly recommend this book as an introductory book about Beethoven for children. The book gives a balanced view of his life while adding in fun activities and historical side notes.

-Product review by Jennifer Ladewig, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March 2020