March 1st marks the debut of the Little Stories of Great Composers, a series by Ana Gerhard that introduces young readers to classical composers through the eyes and ears of a charming little mouse named Minim. In an interview, she shares where she found inspiration for the stories, and how she hopes they’ll bring children closer to classical music. Each Little Story is based on a real event in a famous composer’s life. How did you decide which stories to tell? I have read a lot of biographies of different composers and decided to write about the ones where I remembered anecdotes that could catch a child’s attention. For That’s My Piano Sir, I read a letter from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s father who wrote to a friend that when they arrived in Vienna for the first time, Mozart played the violin for the customs officials. I imagined what that moment must have been like. What was the atmosphere, and what did the people around think? Before I wrote A Delicious Taste of Mozzarella, I wondered why Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky had composed children’s music, because he didn’t have any children of his own and it wasn’t common at the time. In my research, I found out he had a nephew who he loved very much, so that inspired the story. How did you come up with the character Minim, a music- and cheese-loving mouse who encounters the composers in each story? I love cheese and I’m very curious, so in some ways, I thought a mouse would make a good mini-me. More seriously, I talked a lot with Roland Stringer, The Secret Mountain’s publisher, about making a series of composers, and decided it would be nice to have a character that would be in all the stories. But it was difficult, because they are set in different countries and periods in history, and I didn’t want to have to rely on a time machine. I thought a little mouse was a good solution. If the time-jumping bothers anyone, they can just imagine there are more Minims in the successive generations of his family. It’s why I begin every story with “In my family, we love cheese…”. What does the name “Minim” mean? In music, a minim is a time figure. In the Medieval period, it was considered the smallest music unit, which is why in Latin it means “very small.” Now there are sixteenth notes, eighth notes, and so on. I thought it was a good fit, because Minim the mouse is very little, and it has the musical meaning as well. Aside from Minim, what’s the one thing that all of the stories have in common? The one thing the stories all have in common is Minim’s love of music. Even if he’s there at first because he’s looking for cheese, in the end, he always appreciates good music. That’s ultimately the message I want to share with children: To always keep their ears open to music. What else would you like children to take away after reading your stories? In every little story, there is a moment of suspense or a little bit of danger, so I hope that young readers will find a little bit of adventure. Afterward, I hope that the pleasure of music stays with them. Hopefully, some of the historical and geographical information catches their attention also. This Little Stories series gives young readers new ways to approach classical music. Why was that important to you? It’s important that children have different ways to approach a story. The problem with classical music is that it’s very well known, but it’s thought to be for grown-ups or well-educated people. When people think about Bach or Mozart they tend to think of statues and wigs, looking very serious. By sharing these little glimpses into a moment of their lives, it brings them closer so children can see them as human beings. Little Stories of Great Composers are available for preorder now. ABOUT ANA GERHARD: Gerhard is an award-winning children’s author specializing in classical music. Her works have been published in English, French, and Spanish, and have garnered international accolades, including the prestigious Parents’ Choice Gold Award in the United States. Gerhard studied as a concert pianist at the National Conservatory of Music in Mexico and is a renowned music educator. Follow Ana Gerhard on Goodreads and add That’s My Piano, Sir!, the first in the series, to your shelf. To order books for your library or store, please contact Independent Publishers Group (IPG) (http://www.ipgbook.com). For review copies, please send the request to firstname.lastname@example.org.