Strange Mr. Satie

by M.T. Anderson and Petra Mathers

French composer Erik Satie, born in 1866, was an eccentric most of his life. In this... read more

French composer Erik Satie, born in 1866, was an eccentric most of his life. In this funny yet respectful picture book biography, M.T. Anderson conveys the genius and the quirkiness of Satie’s creative mind, and the oddity of his behavior. Satie was unbound by social norms. When he fell in love with a woman who was seeing another man, “he invited himself along on their dates.” When a critic panned his composition Parade, the tantrum-prone Satie sent him an obnoxious and insulting postcard. Friends with Pablo Picasso and other artists and intellectuals, Satie made his breakthrough achievement with a ballet called Cancelled , a multimedia piece far ahead of its time that opened with a movie. He died not long after it debuted. Anderson’s narrative has a spare feel, with short sentences that convey facts rather than emotion. It’s highly effective in creating a slightly off-balance feel, just as Satie’s interaction with the world was slightly off balance. Petra Mathers’s illustrations echo that sense as well. The result is a singular book about a singular individual. An author’s note provides additional information on Satie’s life, including his influence on later composers. (Ages 7–11)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2004

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