Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The 39 Apartments of Ludwig van Beethoven

The 39 Apartments of Ludwig van Beethoven

Jonah Winter
Illustrator:  Barry Blitt 
Historical Fiction Picture Book
For ages 4 to 9
Random House, 2006   ISBN: 978-0375836022

Sometimes, when it comes to famous people who lived a long time ago, it is hard to know which of the stories about them are true and which of them are not. Did Ludwig van Beethoven really have five pianos and did he really saw off the legs of all of them? Well, in actual fact he did. He also lived in thirty-nine different apartments and somehow he managed to move all five of pianos each time. Perhaps at times the pianos had to be moved out of the windows, and perhaps at other times the pianos went through the apartments of other tenants.

So, why did Ludwig keep moving from apartment to apartment? Part of the problem certainly was that he was not the easiest of tenants to live with. He made a great deal of noise playing his pianos because, with the passing of time, Ludwig got more and more deaf and he played his piano louder and louder in an effort to hear his music. Then there were the arguments that he had with the other tenants ? Ludwig had a famously bad temper.

In this amusing picture book the author combines what we do know about Ludwig van Beethoven, his pianos, and his thirty-nine apartments with the author?s own decidedly quirky view of what might have happened all those years ago. The author imagines how people would have reacted to Ludwig, his pianos and the noise he made. He imagines what it would have been like to move those pianos all over the place. The result will have young readers laughing out loud and the artwork created to accompany this story perfectly captures Ludwig?s uncertain and often peculiar behavior.

At the back of the book the author includes further information about Beethoven and his music.