Two Unexpected Good Books – The Composer is Dead and The Search

The Composer is Dead by Lemony Snicket
The Search by Eric Heuvel

Our find of two unexpected god books started when we watched Lemony Snicket A Series of Unfortunate Events the other day.  It wasn’t planned, we just happened to have been channel surfing.  I was surprised my daughter was interested and actually really enjoyed the show, so I thought let’s go get one of the books from the series.    We happened to have been at the bookstore and one of the books we saw at the bookstore was Lemony Snicket The Composer Is Dead, so I reserved it at the library.  When we went to pick up the book, it was not a chapter book like the one we saw in the bookstore, but a board book.  We decided to get it anyway.  What a cute book.  It is a story about a detective trying to find out who killed the composer, however, the suspects are personified instruments.   Not only did we get to read a cute story, but we also wound up having an informal music lesson reviewing instruments and discussing composers. Walking through the library, as always, we grabbed another book, The Search, by Eric Heuvel, Ruud van der Rol and Lies Schippers.  The book is a graphic novel and in a quick review of the summary of the book I learned the book was about a girl’s life during WWII.  Since we are studying American History and about to cover WWI and WWII I thought what a great introduction as “Lightning” really likes graphic novels.  Now, let me give you a warning, this novel was pretty detailed in that it did discuss the gas chambers at Auschwitz, beatings, shootings and other atrocities that occurred during WWII.  This is not a graphic novel for the lighthearted.  I was moved by the story and “Lightning” was interested.  She did not seem to truly grasp the numbers of people who died during WWII as reported in the book; she was very interested in the story, but it was really just a story to her.  I would say this book is more for middle school to high school children, but you would have to be the judge of that based on what you are willing to expose your child to and at what age.    I found myself in tears during sections of the book imagining what it must have been like during this time and the fear and loneliness felt; “Lighting” was not moved to this extent simply stating at various parts, “That seems sad”.  I am not sorry I read her the book, but if I would of read it first, I might have elected to hold off.  I could have stopped at any point, but I took cues from her to see if it was OK to continue on reading.  The references to the atrocities were not on every page so it was not overwhelming but it was definitely present in the book.  I felt this book gave you a “day in the life” view of German Jewish people during the war, something I think will stick with my daughter during her education. I find it a hard decision when is the right time to teach your child certain things, when do you expose them to the “real” side of the world.  I want to keep “Lightning” living in a fairy tale forever, but I just turn on the news to catch the weather and something horrible pops up.  We turn on the TV to watch a show and some scary preview for a horrible new movie that is out is shown.  If I avoid TV then we are in the food store and “Lightning” reads some magazine cover and wants me to explain certain words I would not have chosen for her to know just yet.  The best way I have dealt with this issue is to be honest.  I explain things to her as simply and honestly as I can.  I believe strength is in knowledge, I just wish it all wasn’t put out there every day.

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