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the boy from the basement 2

the boy from the basement 2

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The Boy from the Basement by Susan Shaw ISBN-10: 0525472231 Purchase Now! Twelve-year-old Charlie is confined to his basement without food or clothing. He’s being punished. He doesn’t mean to leave—Father wouldn’t allow it—but when Charlie is accidentally thrust outside, he awakens to the alien surroundings of a world to which he’s never been exposed. Though haunted by fear of the basement and his father’s rage, Charlie embarks on a journey toward healing and blossoms when he becomes an unconditionally loved and loving member of the right foster family. This carefully crafted and authentic portrayal of Charlie’s emotional and physical abuse is gracefully matched by Susan Shaw’s inspiring and deeply moving story of recovery. Reviews Booklist Grades 6 to 9 Hazel Rochman Imprisoned in the basement for many years by his violent father, Charlie, 12, is sure he’s being punished because he is bad, and when he escapes and is placed in a loving foster home, it takes him a long time to feel safe in the strange world outside. Through the truth of the boy’s first-person, present-tense narrative, Shaw transforms what could have been a case study of abuse and recovery into a searing story that is part thriller (Will Father find him and hurt him?) and part gentle narrative about finding a home. The psychology in Charlie’s therapy sessions is realistic; he longs to be back with his biological parents, and he desperately needs to believe they love him. But perhaps most compelling for readers are the details of Charlie’s long isolation. Here’s a child who has never seen TV or used the telephone. What is Christmas? Halloween? What is school? Then comes the quiet climax, when Charlie finally finds a place. Kirkus Review Ages 12 and up Sept 15, 2004 Issue Charlie, 12, can’t read and doesn’t even know his last name. He does know he’s being punished because he’s bad. Father (who is plainly psychotic) keeps Charlie locked in the basement, allowing him to scavenge for food only at night; his frightened mother does nothing to help. One night he steps outside briefly, and the wind blows the door shut behind him. Terrified, he runs into the street, where he’s found and hospitalized. Because he has never gone to school, he knows nothing of the simplest things like Halloween and is convinced that he’s in danger if he goes outside. His struggle to understand his new life in a loving home and his terror of an imaginary, enormous spider that represents his father are more powerful, since it’s Charlie who tells the story. Shaw’s simple language and sentence structure effectively contribute to the realism of her psychological tale, even as she avoids a too-vivid description of physical abuse. This affecting, ultimately uplifting examination of a boy’s recovery from extreme child abuse is a stunner and certain to attract readers.


Gaetano Donizetti: The Boy from the Basement of Bergamo by Claire Mathieson Although Gaetano Donizetti’s opera Don Pasquale is set in the ancient and renowned city of Rome, the composer both started and ended his life in Bergamo, a relatively small city near Milan. With its Città Alta (upper city) and Città Bassa (lower city), connected today via funicular railway, it’s not hard to imagine Bergamo inspiring great music, an art form with its own highs and lows. Since Donizetti’s time, it has become a modern city in many ways; it was heavily industrialized in the 20th century and now has the third-busiest airport in Italy, which the well-travelled composer would likely frequent were he alive today. However, many landmarks of Donizetti’s life still stand in Bergamo, solid reminders of the man behind the music. Casa Natale At Donizetti’s birthplace (now a museum) in Bergamo’s Borgo Canale district, one can still visit the dark basement in which the great composer drew his first breath. “I was born underground in Borgo Canale.” He wrote in a letter to German composer Johann Simon Mayr, his teacher. “You went down cellar steps, where no glimmer of light ever penetrated.” However, the basement is just the first step in Donizetti’s story, and many of Bergamo’s other monuments showcase the great heights to which he climbed. Lezioni Caritatevoli di Musica When Donizetti was nine, his father – a pawnshop caretaker – enrolled him in Mayr’s Lezioni Caritatevoli di Musica (Charitable Music Lessons). Donizetti became the most famous of Mayr’s pupils, and now – though greatly changed – the very school that took him in and helped him realize his potential is doing the same for today’s musicians under the name Gaetano Donizetti Institute of Advanced Music Studies. Teatro Donizetti A century after Donizetti’s basement birth, this theater – before known as the Teatro Nuovo or Teatro di Fiera – was rechristened the Teatro Donizetti. In 1960, the theater put on the world premiere of its namesake’s first opera, Il Pigmalione, never performed in Donizetti’s lifetime. In the park beside the theater, a monument to Donizetti allows visitors to see a statue of the composer listening to his lyre-plucking muse from a stone bench. Santa Maria Maggiore Although it was Mayr’s relatively new school that nurtured Donizetti to greatness, the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore had been training singers in Bergamo since the late 1400s. It is only fitting that its churchyard became Donizetti’s final resting place, not far from that of Mayr. In keeping with the theme of opposites – high and low, poverty and success – Donizetti’s tomb reads “Trovatore fecondo di sacre e profane melodie,” prolific troubadour of sacred and profane melodies. Although Bergamo only bookended Donizetti’s life and lacks the recognition of other cities where he spent many of his years, like Naples, Paris, and Vienna, one can see its influence on him in his own lasting effects on it. From the buildings that now bear his name to his gravesite – within singing distance of that of his beloved teacher – Donizetti is a keystone in Bergamo’s history and culture, and the city itself is a testament to one boy’s power to go from a cellar to the stars.


by Claire Mathieson Although Gaetano Donizetti’s opera Don Pasquale is set in the ancient and renowned city of Rome, the composer both started and ended his life in Bergamo, a relatively small city near Milan. With its Città Alta (upper city) and Città Bassa (lower city), connected today via funicular railway, it’s not hard to imagine Bergamo inspiring great music, an art form with its own highs and lows. Since Donizetti’s time, it has become a modern city in many ways; it was heavily industrialized in the 20th century and now has the third-busiest airport in Italy, which the well-travelled composer would likely frequent were he alive today. However, many landmarks of Donizetti’s life still stand in Bergamo, solid reminders of the man behind the music. Casa Natale At Donizetti’s birthplace (now a museum) in Bergamo’s Borgo Canale district, one can still visit the dark basement in which the great composer drew his first breath. “I was born underground in Borgo Canale.” He wrote in a letter to German composer Johann Simon Mayr, his teacher. “You went down cellar steps, where no glimmer of light ever penetrated.” However, the basement is just the first step in Donizetti’s story, and many of Bergamo’s other monuments showcase the great heights to which he climbed. Lezioni Caritatevoli di Musica When Donizetti was nine, his father – a pawnshop caretaker – enrolled him in Mayr’s Lezioni Caritatevoli di Musica (Charitable Music Lessons). Donizetti became the most famous of Mayr’s pupils, and now – though greatly changed – the very school that took him in and helped him realize his potential is doing the same for today’s musicians under the name Gaetano Donizetti Institute of Advanced Music Studies. Teatro Donizetti A century after Donizetti’s basement birth, this theater – before known as the Teatro Nuovo or Teatro di Fiera – was rechristened the Teatro Donizetti. In 1960, the theater put on the world premiere of its namesake’s first opera, Il Pigmalione, never performed in Donizetti’s lifetime. In the park beside the theater, a monument to Donizetti allows visitors to see a statue of the composer listening to his lyre-plucking muse from a stone bench. Santa Maria Maggiore Although it was Mayr’s relatively new school that nurtured Donizetti to greatness, the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore had been training singers in Bergamo since the late 1400s. It is only fitting that its churchyard became Donizetti’s final resting place, not far from that of Mayr. In keeping with the theme of opposites – high and low, poverty and success – Donizetti’s tomb reads “Trovatore fecondo di sacre e profane melodie,” prolific troubadour of sacred and profane melodies. Although Bergamo only bookended Donizetti’s life and lacks the recognition of other cities where he spent many of his years, like Naples, Paris, and Vienna, one can see its influence on him in his own lasting effects on it. From the buildings that now bear his name to his gravesite – within singing distance of that of his beloved teacher – Donizetti is a keystone in Bergamo’s history and culture, and the city itself is a testament to one boy’s power to go from a cellar to the stars.