The Mysteries of Beethoven's Hair by Russell Martin and Lydia Nibley

30897719Lynn: In 1827 a music teacher and his young student, Ferdinand Hiller, paid their final respects to the dead musical genius, Ludwig van Beethoven. Hiller clipped a precious lock of Beethoven’s hair and preserved it carefully in a wooden locket. In 1995 in Tucson, Arizona, two new owners of that same locket carefully opened it to begin a series of scientific tests. Beethoven enthusiasts and collectors, Dr. Che Guevara and Ira Brilliant, hoped to discover the cause of Beethoven’s chronic illnesses, his deafness and death.

The fascinating Mysteries of Beethoven’s Hair (Charlesbridge 2009) has more than one intriguing mystery to unfold. Was the hair actually Beethoven’s? How did the locket make its way from Cologne Germany to the tiny Danish town of Gilleleje in the dark days of WWII? What happened to the Hiller family? Interspersed with a biography of Beethoven, the investigative processes are clearly described with each carefully attained fact added to the next, leading to fascinating conclusions. Talk about interdisciplinary! This slim volume is a treasure trove of topics: forensic science, history, biography, music and investigative research. Perfect for those dreaded research reports, this is book that is flat-out fascinating to read too.

Even if the book wasn’t so interesting, the authors’ note at the end would make this worthy of purchase. This gem of a section explains how to write nonfiction and succinctly describes narrative nonfiction in as clear a way as I have ever seen. Note to YALSA and ALSC: Get permission to give this authors’ note to ALL incoming selection and awards committees who still have the joy of considering nonfiction!

nonfictionmondayThanks to Lerner Books blog for hosting Nonfiction Monday.

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

4 Comments on "The Mysteries of Beethoven's Hair by Russell Martin and Lydia Nibley"

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  1. carstnsna@yahoo.com' Angela Carstensen says:

    This was one of my favorite nonfiction reads of 2009. However, I have one major problem with the book: It does not include source notes or a bibliography. The adult version, Beethoven’s Hair by Russell Martin (Broadway, 2000), has pages of them. I object to my sense that the authors found them unnecessary for a young adult audience. On the other hand, the “story” is truly captivating, and I agree with your remarks about the Author’s Note.

  2. lanelifebarbie2@yahoo.com' rokel says:

    omg i need to get this book

  3. lanelifebarbie2@yahoo.com' rokel says:

    or a least read it i wounder if they got it online so i can read it??<3

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