Quill and Quire

Book news

« Back to

Daniel Handler kills the composer for the kids

The mental and spiritual development of the young ‘uns seems to be much on the minds of literary types these days.

Daniel Handler, better known as Lemony Snicket (apparently to his lasting chagrin: the author’s new story is titled “Why Does Lemony Snicket Keep Following Me?”), is working on a symphony that will teach children about orchestral instruments. The piece, commissioned by the San Fransisco Symphony, is called “The Composer Is Dead” (a book-and-CD version is due out in March). In an interview published in the Sacramento Bee, Snick… er, Handler explains that he was originally approached by composer Nathaniel Stookey to contribute narration to Peter and the Wolf, but considered that story “boring.”

Handler describes the plot of “The Composer” this way:

The composer is dead and his death is suspicious, and the authorities come in and question all the members of the orchestra so you learn about all the different instruments.

Yup. That sounds riveting.

In other kid-related news, The New York Times Magazine asks whether children reap the same benefits reading off a computer screen as they do reading actual books:

In a hundred ways, we pretend that screen experiences are books ” PowerBooks, notebooks, e-books ” but even a child knows the difference. Reading books is an operation with paper. Playing games on the Web is something else entirely. I need to admit this to myself, too. I try to believe that reading online is reading-plus, with the text searchable, hyperlinked and accompanied by video, audio, photography and graphics. But maybe it’s just not reading at all. Just as screens aren’t books.