I was at my sister's house and her four-year-old son asked to read his favorite book again, please. His favorite book is amazing.
So many kid's books present a world that is somehow normal. This is what's weird about them. Because you know, I know, we all know, that there's always something, or someone, not so normal. There are the kids in your class who wear hoop earrings and skinny jeans and act "normal," and then there's the kid in your class who sings unfamiliar songs out loud even though everyone can hear him, or her. The kid who talks backward, or doesn't talk at all, or speaks in riddles. The kid who's really, legitimately strange. These kids are part of the world too, and it's reassuring to open a book and to see one in it.
Here's what I loved about this book, Strange Mr. Satie. Mr. Satie, who is the composer Erik Satie, is, in fact, strange. And while this book exists, on one level, to tell the story of Satie's life and music in particular, it also honors the utter oddness of the person, his singularity. And in his singularity, he is like so many others, if that makes any sense.
It's not that he was able to have a happy life, exactly. He was prone to inexplicable tantrums. He often alienated his friends. He didn't fit in. But he was true to who he was (not that he had any choice about, I suppose) and was able to make his music all the same. It touched me in a way I hadn't expected.
It's a beautiful book, with strange rhythms. A lovely thing to read aloud. I would read it aloud to people of almost any age, except (maybe) the under-three set. But everyone else.
Be forewarned, there are some strange happening. He threw his girlfriend out the window, for instance. But she was a circus performer and landed on her toes. And he dies at the end, alone. Which is sad, but true. It does not seem to bother my nephew. He just likes the book.
You can listen to some of Satie's beautiful music on his wikipedia page (it's at the bottom). I think it would be a wonderful thing to read someone this book and then listen with them to this.
Video courtesy of Rovingeye2.