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Sylvie and the Songman
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Sylvie and the Songman

3.5 of 5 stars 3.50  ·  rating details  ·  117 ratings  ·  34 reviews
A compelling story full of magic and music.

Sylvie Bartram lives alone with Mr. Jackson the dog and her eccentric composer father, who invents strange and wonderful musical instruments. One day she returns from school to find a message left in toothpaste on the bathroom mirror: her father has been kidnapped. Later that night, the house is visited by a terrifying apparition—
ebook, 352 pages
Published August 11th 2009 by David Fickling Books (first published December 1st 2008)
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Community Reviews

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Sierra Abrams
All is not well in London, England. Sylvie has noticed that the birds refuse to whistle, and her own dog, Mr. Jackson, apparently has lost his bark. The fox she always sees from the train isn’t on his platform, watching her pass. Her father, Daniel, a creative musician who builds and plays his own insturments, has just discovered an entirely new note. Shortly afterward, he disappears, leaving only an eye drawn on the bathroom mirror with toothpaste to give Sylvie a clue to work with. Sylvie and ...more
Loved the premise, kooky, kind, likable father invents musical instruments that capture the sounds of animals, birds and even humans not found on conventional musical instruments. When these instruments strike a powerful, loud chord, the adventure begins. Sylvie's mother had drown at sea a year earlier, then her lovable father mysteriously disappears after he hits this chord, setting in motion an adventure for Sylvie, thirteen, her friend George, and her dog, Mr. Jackson, who mysteriously lost h ...more
The illustrations are pencil drawings, with lots of shadow and light, afew clear images but mostly suggestions. Thats probably the best description of the book too. Sylvie has lost her mother and then her father disappears. She has to search for him and then rescue him from the Songman, who is determined to steal the songs of all creatures so he can control the world. Its an interesting idea, with many of the elements of good YA. And an overall enjoyable book. But I'd have enjoyed a hint of colo ...more
One Sentence Review: A strange and lyrical book, though one that does feel as if it was written by an adult author who was trying to figure out the children's book genre.
Maggie G.
I loved the animals' songs and the way they were expressed in a way that was vaguely human. Beautifully imagined.
So the premise of this book, is that Sylvie's Dad is kidnapped, because he's always inventing new musical instruments, and with all his instruments combined he creates this one monster note.

There's a bad-guy, who has figured out how to sing other creature's songs, and once he's sung their song, he's stolen their voice, and - this part is unclear, some of them do his bidding. Some don't.

This book has a vague-ness about it's writing that I thought took away from the storyline. Also, a lot of what
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Theresa L. Stowell for

Thirteen-year-old Sylvie Bartram's father is not just any musician in SYLVIE AND THE SONGMAN by Tim Binding. Daniel Bartram is an inventor and composer whose search for that one perfect note leads to more trouble than anyone could have imagined.

One night, father and daughter experiment with his homemade instruments and hit an unusual note. The next day, Sylvie comes home from school to find that her father is missing and a mysterious message is
J Binding T
Sylvie Bartram faces several mysteries in this book. Where has her father, a musician and inventor, disappeared to? Why are so many animals losing their voices? Why are mysterious and upsetting characters searching her house? She sets off with friends, human and animal, to find the answers and bring her missing father home.
What attracted me to this book initially was a startling cover. The book is well illustrated and it prompted me to take a look at the inner flap. It revealed an i
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Sylvie’s father is a musician extraordinaire who has devoted his career to building various instruments that play the “songs” of nature. He’s searching for the perfect note. Little does he know that the Songman plans to use his instruments for his own diabolical plan. One day, Sylvie returns home to find her father and his instruments missing. When their house is ransacked, Sylvie realizes that someone is looking for the written notes her father made about the sequence of events that lead to the ...more
Kiirsi Hellewell
This book is so unique and original--a really fresh fantasy plot. I really enjoyed reading something so different. I also really, really liked the "animal language" and the talking to animals stuff...the animals were adorable, endearing, and heartbreaking.

The book did start off really slowly and was overly "British," I felt...kind of hard to understand what some words meant. Also, the majority of the characters didn't seem very full and complete. I didn't really ever feel like I got into any of
Sylvie's musician/inventor father doesn't come home one night, and this is the start of Sylvie's surreal adventures as she tries to find him and defeat the very bad guys. All of her father's musical instruments have vanished, and Sylvie, except for the help of her friend George, realizes that she is on her own. Why don't the birds sing anymore, and why does Sylvie's dog, Mr. Jackson, also seem to have lost his voice? Who is the scary Woodpecker Man and why is he chasing them? This often frighten ...more
Varsha Seshan
I know at times I thought it wasn't worth my time. But then, I came across gems like this...

I was irritated with how detailed parts of it were. I wondered in places where the story was going and how there were so many pages left to finish it.

But in the end, it was all worth it.
It was one of those fantasies where you don't need to understand everything. It was a real, frightening, thrilling world of hope and despair. I loved the illustrations - and the fa
I started reading an ARC of this... it's many things I SHOULD by all accounts love...mystery, fantasy, TERRIBLY British in wit and wry humour, full of animals, kites, and clueless young girls... and yet I got about 85 pages in and realized that I was skimming through an encounter with the first "Monster", a Woodpecker man. This is not good, considering I had another 250+ pages to go and was already on the skim.

I wonder if it's just not the time for the book. It's a quick enough read, but my hea
All the animals have lost their voices. Sylvie's father has disappeared. Things start to get very strange. Sylvie and her friend George, along with Sylvie's faithful dog Mr. Jackson, set off on a quest to find Sylvie's father, help the animals recover their voices, and defeat the Songman.

Throughout the book there were moments when I was reminded of various other children's fantasy books. However, the similarities did not bother me. This book was really its own story, despite the similarities, an
Nell TheBookGoddess
I thank my kind of creepy 4th grade teacher for reading us fanatic book that I vaguely remember to be magical, whimsical and fantastic so I have the compulsion 5 years later to read them again.
Set in England, this story is about a girl named Sylvie who lives with her eccentric father, Daniel, and their dog, Mr. Jackson, in a rural area of Cornwall. Daniel is an inventor of instruments, and he is creating ones that capture sounds of nature. When her father goes missing, Sylvie enlists the help of her friend George to find him. Together with Mr. Jackson and a fox to which Sylvie has a special bond, they battle the evil Songman who is trying to steal the songs of all animals. This was a ...more
Anna Hernandez
This book holds ethereal qualities, infusing a touch of magic into a familiar landscape of family, friendship, animals, nature, and the battle between good and evil. The way the animals speak, especially Sylvie's beloved Mr. Jackson, is exceptionally moving and the book was headed for my stack of "favorites." However, the last chapters were a little murky for me. Maybe I was trying to read too much symbolism into the story or else I didn't understand the symbolism presented. Either way, this boo ...more
Carolyn Scharnick
I thought the book was very imaginative and had a lot of feeling.
I read this book because the protagonist had the same name as me. Although I at first enjoyed the book, the plot eventually seemed to become too sporadic. Things kept happening that didn't fully get explained, but I guess I understood it. More of my problem with this book was that I never connected to the characters. Sylvie and George are very sweet, but I never got to know them the way I know characters in most books. My favorite part of this book was the dog, Mr. Jackson. At a couple points Mr ...more
Honestly, I didn't finish it. Still, I think it's the kind of eerie fantasy that I would have loved as a kid. Sylvie's dad disappears one day along with her dog's voice and those of many other animals in her neighborhood. A strange woodpecker man in a hot air balloon starts hunting down Sylvie and her tone-deaf friend George - could it have something to do with her father's invented musical instruments? And who's the Songman they keep hearing about? An exciting, creepy, mysterious adventure stor ...more
Some parts of the book I really enjoyed, like the way the animals spoke. TOwards the end, there is this really strange section about addiction, which I think would be over the heads of elementary students. I'm not sure who I would recommend this book to. There are also two scenes where the young characters drink wine. It is apparent that the do this, not because they want to get drunk, but because they are frightened and are trying to act like adults.
This author should stick to adult fiction. I almost gave up on this book a few times it dragged on and just didn't have that spark for me. The idea of being able to talk to animals was interesting but, I felt handled a bit clunkly. The plot itself was a bit of a cliche but, world domination through song was a unique twist I suppose. I do not believe this book would hold a kids attention past the first few chapters.
An engrossing story about a girl who rescues her mysteriously disappearing father, and saves the world at the same time. Wonderful rendering of a love of, and the goodness of, nature (the majesty and unconquerable nature of the tiger; a wise fox; the sea) and also its dangers. I was intrigued by the use of woodpeckers as indicative of evil and their creepiness was rendered so well.
Interesting concept. The world building slipped at times, but it's well written. I got bored off and on, though, and I'm not sure if it's because I had to put it down so often after reading two or three pages because of the kids, or if it's because I was reading during midnight feedings with the baby.
3 and 1/2 stars. I liked Sylvie and George and the animal fantasy parts. The Songman is a villian, but not a complete one. I can see parents in our crazy American suburban culture objecting to these European kids drinking wine. I wanted to like it more, but couldn't.
Nicol Legakis
This was a very unique book for young adults. I really liked the premise but thought certain things should have been better explained (such as why there were no other humans around during the protagonist's adventure). I also didn't love the ending.
Melanie Au
The theme of finding out she has unknown gifts/powers (to understand animals)is cliche and the storyline a little bizzare, but the adventure and special connection with animals may appeal to readers. Woodpecker man (antagonist) is pretty creepy.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
A really interesting YA novel from Britain about a girl whose father is kidnapped for his musical instruments by a guy who wants to take away the song of the world.
A strange enchanting story! Really beautiful writing, and very imaginative! I devoured it in one day; couldn't put it down.
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Novelist Tim Binding was born in Germany in 1947. A former editor at Penguin Books in London, he is a part-time commissioning editor at London publishers Simon & Schuster. He is the author of the novels, In the Kingdom of Air (1993), A Perfect Execution (1996) (shortlisted for the Guardian Fiction Prize), Island Madness (1998), set on Guernsey during the Second World War, and Man Overboard (20 ...more
More about Tim Binding...
Island Madness Lying with the Enemy A Perfect Execution Cliffhanger Anthem

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