Reader Reviewed The Mozart Question by Michael Morpurgo

The Mozart Question

Written by Michael Morpurgo
Illustrated by Michael Foreman

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The Lovereading4Kids comment

This is one of the most moving and eloquently written novels I've read in while. For any musically inclined child from 8 or so upwards then they, and indeed you, can't fail to be incredibly moved and gripped all at the same time as the story unfolds. In addition, any child who has a love of writing and yearns one day to be a journalist then this novel will give them that further boost of determination to get there. The Mozart Question will undoubtedly bring tears to your eyes and Michael Foreman's illustrations are a delight to behold.

A note from the author It is difficult for us to imagine how dreadful was the suffering that went on in the Nazi concentration camps during the second World War. The enormity of the crime that the Nazis committed is just too overwhelming for us to comprehend. In their attempt to wipe out an entire race they caused the deaths of six million people, most of them Jews. It is when you hear the stories of the individuals who lived through it - Anne Frank, Primo Levi - that you begin to understand the horror just a little better, and to understand the evil that caused it. For me, the most haunting image does not come from literature or film, but from music. I learned some time ago that in many of the camps the Nazis selected Jwish prisoners and forced them to play in orchestras; for the musician it was simply a way to survive. In order to calm the new arrivals at the camps they were asked to serenade them as they were lined up and marched off, many to the gas chambers. Often they played Mozart. I wondered how it must have been for a musician who played in such hellish circumstances, who adored Mozart as I do - what thoughts came when playing Mozart later in life. This was the genesis of my story, this and the sight of a small boy in a square by the Accademia Bridge in Venice, sitting one night, in his pyjamas on his tricycle, listening to a busker. He sat totally enthralled by the music that semed to him, and to me, to be heavenly.

Reader Reviews

We have asked a select number of children to review The Mozart Question. You can read their reviews below.

Morgan Steigmann, age 14 - 'Captivating you from the first turn of a page, and mesmerising you throughout, this book is likely to only last a few sittings. Yet with Morpurgo’s writing at its best, and a storyline as powerful as this, the issues raised are likely to linger in one’s mind for much, much longer.'  Click Here to read the full review.

Katie Johnson, age 9 -
'The Mozart Question was an absolutely brilliant book.  It is very touching as Paolo describes his childhood.  If you have enjoyed Michael Morpurgo’s other stories about war, I would recommend you read this book.'  Click Here to read the full review.

Evie Ballard, age 11 -
'I really enjoyed this book because I was interested in knowing what the secret was...I would rate this book 10 out of 10; I've never read anything like it before.'  Click Here to read the full review.



The Mozart Question by Michael Morpurgo

The author of the international phenomenon War Horse brings us a moving tale of secrets and survival bound together by the power of music. When Lesley is sent to Venice to interview world-renowned violinist Paulo Levi on his fiftieth birthday, she cannot believe her luck. She is told that she can ask him anything at all - except the Mozart question. But it is Paulo himself who decides that the time has come for the truth to be told. And so follows the story of his parents in a Jewish concentration camp, forced to play Mozart violin concerti for the enemy; how they watched fellow Jews being led off to their deaths and knew that they were playing for their lives. As the story unfolds, the journalist begins to understand the full horror of war - and how one group of musicians survived using the only weapon they had.


Wonderful illustrations. Wells Journal The storytelling is superb ... it makes a good read for those who are short of time but want a quality read. I read it on the daily commute The Citizen Moving tale of secrets and survival bound together by the power of music. The Bookseller Children's Buyer's Guide Like so many of his books, the author packs a huge amount of emotion into a relatively short story; tender and touching yet woven through with the reality and horror of those times. Michael Foreman's pencil drawings subtly convey the emotions and hit home for the reader. A compelling and haunting tale. Parents in Touch

About the Author

Michael Morpurgo

March 16 was Michael Morpurgo month on Lovereading4kids - click here to view the favourites we selected on themes of Legends, Animals, War and Journeys.

Michael Morpurgo, OBE, MBE, is one of the UK’s best-loved authors and storytellers. He was appointed Children’s Laureate in May 2003, a post he helped to set up with his friend Ted Hughes in 1999. He was awarded an OBE for services to Literature in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2007. He has written over 120 books, including Kensuke’s Kingdom which won the Children’s Book Award 2000 and was shortlisted for the Whitbread Children’s Book Award and the Carnegie Medal in 2000. His novel, Private Peaceful, a harrowing story about the First World War was published in Autumn 2003. It won the 2004 Red House Children’s Book Award and the Blue Peter Book Award in 2005. His novel Shadow about a boy from Afghanistan and the dog he befriends won the Red House Children’s Book Award, voted for by children.

Many of Michael’s books have been adapted for the stage. These include Private Peaceful, Kensuke’s Kingdom, Why the Whales Came and The Mozart Question, and most notably, the National Theatre’s production of War Horse which then moved to a theatre in central London. This production of Michael’s moving and powerful story of survival on the Western Front, which reached number one in the Observer’s top ten theatre performances and was also awarded the best design prize in the Evening Standard Theatre Awards. This production also played in New York where it was awarded five Tony Awards. In 2012 the film adaptation of War Horse, directed by Steven Spielberg, was a box office success.
Michael travels all over the UK and abroad talking to children and telling his stories and encouraging them to tell theirs.

In 1976, Michael and his wife, Clare, started the charity Farms for City Children. They help to run three farms around the country, in Gloucestershire, Pembrokeshire and North Devon. Each farm offers children and teachers from urban primary schools the chance to live and work in the countryside for a week, and gain hands-on experience. For more information about the work of Farms for City Children, please visit

Michael Morpurgo lives in Devon with his wife Clare. He has three children and seven grandchildren.

Michael Morpurgo was our Guest Editor in June 2010. Click here to see the books that inspired his writing, or scroll down to see books written by Michael.

Anthony Horowitz on Michael Morpurgo:

'Michael Morpurgo is the most solid, classical of children's authors. He sits outside the series-driven blockbusters so beloved of publishers nowadays: he hasn't created a Harry Potter or an Alex Rider – and I admire him for resisting that. We are opposite sides of the same coin and, although his work has never influenced mine, I admire the eloquent, considered voice of his best books. He has an unerring moral compass – his schoolteacher past has never quite left him – and books such as War Horse and The Butterfly Lion have a strong social concience and an honesty that makes them universal.' (The Guardian)

Why not CLICK HERE to take a peek at Michael’s 10 Rules for Writing.

or Click here to read a Q&A with the author.

You can also read about his life in a new biography, War Child to War Horse, to which he has contributed seven stories - click here to find out more.

Michael is the inaugural President of the Historical Writers Association starting from Autumn 2011, ( It was founded to bring social and professional support to writers of historical fiction and non-fiction, publishers, agents and booksellers, all bound both by their common interest in historical books and by the sense of community that comes from a shared obsession.

Since its creation, the Historical Writers' Association has launched a Festival of Historical Writing in association with English Heritage as part of their Festival of History at Kelmarsh in Northamptonshire.


March 2016 was Michael Morpurgo Month - a special month-long celebration of the varied and wonderful works of Michael Morpurgo as he celebrates his 70th year and also to mark the 40th anniversary of his and his wife’s Farms for City Children charity. Each week we featured a different selection of books under the themes of Journeys, War, Legends and Animals. We invited our readers to review many of the books that featured during Michael Morpurgo month - and you can download all their reviews here.

If you like Michael Morpurgo you might also like to read books by Robert Westall, Anne Fine, Sarah Lean and Celia Rees.

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Book Info


112 pages
Interest Age: From 7


Michael Morpurgo
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Walker Books Ltd

Publication date

11th May 2015




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