The Composer Is Dead by Lemony Snicket
The moment I saw Lemony Snicket's name on the cover of The Composer Is Dead at the library the other day, I knew I had to read it. I knew it would be funny; what I wasn't expecting was this musical masterpiece.
The story is somewhat basic: a composer has been murdered, and the detective must sound out the man, er, instrument who committed the crime. The text, however, isn't what makes this book so amazing.
This isn't just a picture book, nor is it just an audio book or just a soundtrack; it is an experience. The book is funny enough on its own, but play the accompanying cd with soundtrack, and it's even greater. The experience, however, doesn't reach fever pitch until you add in Snicket's exceptional narration (also included on the cd).
Daniel Handler, the man behind the Snicket, must have played in an orchestra at some point in his life. It's the only way to explain how all of the humor in The Composer Is Dead is spot on.
While marketed as a children's picture book, young children won't get most of the jokes. Instead, the musically inclined adult reading (or listening) to the book will be laughing to the point of hyperventilating.
Don't believe me? See the book trailer, below, which demonstrates a bit of what I'm talking about.
I played this book for my stepmom, a concert cellist cum cello instructor. She laughed and nodded at all the jokes and one-liners, and then immediately went out to purchase a copy to share with her students.
I highly recommend this book as a gift for the music major/orchestra teacher/flautist in your life. If they've played in an orchestra, even just in high school, they will be rolling by the time the experience ends. Then buy a copy for yourself.
*Because this book deserves much more than 5 stars.