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The Mozart Season


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About the Author

Virginia Euwer Wolff is an accomplished violinist and former elementary school and high school English teacher. Her first book for young readers, Probably Still Nick Swansen, was published in 1988 and won both the International Reading Association Award and the PEN-West Book Award. Since then she has written several more critically acclaimed young adult novels, earning more honors, including the National Book Award for True Believer, as well as the Golden Kite Award for Fiction and the Jane Addams Book Award for Children's Books that Build Peace. Her books include Make Lemonade, This Full House and Bat 6. She lives in Oregon.


At the beginning of summer, 12-year-old Allegra Leah Shapiro finds out that she has been selected as a finalist in a local violin competition. She spends the summer practicing Mozart's fourth violin concerto, preparing for the competition and sorting through her conflicting feelings about wanting to be herself and wanting to please her parents and grandmother. The Mozart Season is long on rumination and short on action, as Allegra wrestles with everything from what it takes to be a musician to what it means to be half Jewish and half Gentile to the exact nature of her connection with her grandmother, murdered in a concentration camp during World War II. Unfortunately, Wolff's constant repetition of themes is hardly hypnotic, as was probably intended, but simply mind numbing. However, Wolff's slightly flawed work contains some redeeming qualities--it is a pleasure to have a novel of ideas for young adults that describes the delicate dance between honoring traditions of the past and being your own person in the present. Ages 11-13. (May)

Gr 6-8-- Allegra Leah Shapiro is happily making the transition from seventh-grade softball season to summertime when she can concentrate on her violin lessons. At their first session, her teacher informs her that she has been chosen as a finalist in a competition for young musicians, probably the youngest of those selected. Allegra, a gifted violinist, plays in a youth orchestra in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, but she is also a three-dimensional, real 12-year-old who wrangles good-naturedly with her older brother, chafes at her parents' restrictions on late-night bike riding, is loyal to her friends, and is intensely curious about the world around her. As the summer progresses, several themes weave in and out of Allegra's consciousness and growth as she struggles with the Mozart concerto she will play in the competition. A strange dancing man who appears at outdoor concerts, the mysterious sadness surrounding her mother's friend Deirdre, and a very special gift from her grandmother in New York--all these find their way into Allegra's awareness and eventually into her own interpretation of the concerto. With a clear, fresh voice that never falters, Wolff gives readers a delightful heroine, a fully realized setting, and a slowly building tension that reaches a stunning climax at the competition. Like Patricia MacLachlan in The Facts and Fictions of Minna Pratt (1988) and Bruce Brooks in Midnight Hour Encores (1986, both HarperCollins), Wolff interweaves the themes of adolescence, music, and striving for excellence with great success. A book that will richly reward its readers. --Connie C. Rockman, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT

"It is a pleasure to have a novel of ideas for young adults that describes the delicate dance between honoring traditions of the past and being your own person in the present." --Publisher's Weekly"A book that will richly reward its readers." --School Library Journal"Her season of discovery--of Mozart, her own roots, and the creative balance between life's traumas and trivia--marks a fine achievement." --Kirkus Reviews

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