Monday, February 10, 2014

Scarlatti's Cat, by Nathaniel Lachenmeyer (Illustrated by Carlyn Beccia)

Scarlatti's Cat
Author: Nathaniel Lachenmeyer
Illustrator: Carlyn Beccia
Publisher: Carolrhoda Picture Books (Lerner Publishing Group)
Publication Date: March 1, 2014
View on Amazon
 Source: NetGalley

Scarlatti's Cat tells the sort-of-real-life story of Pulcinella, the cat who composed music for its master. Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757) was a famous Italian composer whose harpsichord sonata "Fugue in G Minor" has come to be known as the "Cat's Fugue" because of its resemblance to the sound of a cat walking across the keys. Though Scarlatti never called his composition "Cat's Fugue" he did reportedly have a cat named Pulcinella who liked to walk on his harpsichord to hear the sounds emitted. Of course the book expands on this story by inventing an incident with a mouse and a cat who yearns to make music. And I'm not sure if there's any reason to think that Scarlatti gave his cat away out of jealousy like he does in the book.

I can't think of a sweeter way to introduce children (and their adults) to the world of Scarlatti's harpsichord music than this book. After we read it, my daughter Magda and I immediately watched Elaine Comparone's performance of "The Cat's Fugue: on YouTube and were completely transfixed. Like The Man With the Violin, A Mouse Called Wolf or My Dog Thinks I'm a Genius, this book brings the life and work of an artist into the realm of beautiful children's stories, which I think is just lovely.

Above video: Scarlatti Harpsichord Solo: The Cat's Fugue, by Elaine Comparone. Watch on YouTube.

Magda's Take:
"I didn't like that he gave his cat away at the end. Why did he have to do that? It seemed really mean of him."

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