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The Mysteries of Beethoven's Hair

by Russell Martin and Lydia Nibley

Published by Charlesbridge, 2009
120 pages
ISBN: 978-1-57091-714-1

Ages 12 and older

Unexpectedly fascinating, this skillful blend of biography, science, and history follows three narrative strands: a biography of composer Ludwig Beethoven; the story of two Americans in the mid-1990s purchasing a lock of hair supposedly from Beethoven at a Sotheby's auction and the subsequent scientific research done on the hair; and what is known about the journey of the hair after it was clipped at the time of Beethoven's death. It turns out the hair was passed down through generations of a Jewish family until it came into the hands of a Danish family assisting in the flight of Jews from Denmark during World War II. That historical drama is matched by the medical drama that unfolds as forensic scientists around the country examine the hair. Their research not only helped confirm that the hair did indeed belong to Beethoven, but also that the composer suffered from severe lead poisoning--a fact that could explain his many medical ailments, including deafness. The authors, who previously wrote an adult book on this topic, penned this account for a young adult audience and include a comprehensive discussion on the research they conducted and their decisions about how to craft the story. CCBC categories: Historical People, Places, and Events.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center


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