Marvin Makes Music by Marvin Hamlisch


NF PB 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!


Marvin Makes Music
Author: Marvin Hamlisch
Illustrator: Jim Madsen
Published November 8th, 2012 by Dial

Goodreads Summary: A true story from one of America’s most beloved composers

Marvin loves to play the piano and compose his own songs. But performing music over and over that’s composed by some old guys name Ludwig and Wolfgang just gives him knots in his stomach. When his father tells Marvin he has an audition with the most prestigious music school, how can Marvin overcome his nerves and get swept away by the music?

This endearing book is based on the true life story of composer Marvin Hamlisch, who, at the age of six, was the youngest person ever accepted into the Juilliard School.

My Review: Marvin’s story reminds me of why I build relationships with students and help them find who they are and what books they will like. Marvin is forced to play certain music and he hated it. He never understood why he had to “play music by composers with funny names, like Wolfgang and Ludwig,” but he loved his own kind of music. Being forced to play the other music was making him not want to play piano anymore–this is exactly what we do to kids with books!

Overall, I loved the book and think it is a great read to promote following dreams and passions–a great read aloud!

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: Marvin Hamlisch’s sister-in-law Charlotte Blair has created a classroom guide to Marvin Makes Music. You can view it for free here.

You Tube Videos: 

Part of the book launch last November that also shares a song

A short interview with Marvin Hamlisch

Discussion Questions: How is Marvin’s parents helping him follow his dream? How are they hurting him although they don’t mean to?

We Flagged: “His father showed him how the people on the street below looked like ants, but to Marvin they looked like musical notes. That made him start humming a little tune. Marvin closed his eyes and listened to all the sounds around him. He wished he could play his piano right now. It would be a City Symphony.” (p. 11)

Read This If You Loved: Tito Puente, Mambo King by Monica Brown, Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald by Andrea Davis Pinkney, John’s Secret Dreams by Doreen Rappaport

Recommended For: 



**Thank you to Anna Olswanger for providing a copy for review**

3 thoughts on “Marvin Makes Music by Marvin Hamlisch”

  1. Kellee, Thanks so much for sharing Marvin Makes Music as your Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday choice! The classroom guide you mentioned is for elementary classroom teachers and the activities and conversations are aligned to Common Core Standards and 21st Century Skills. Printable forms to make implementation easier have been included. Thanks again, Charlotte


Leave a Comment