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Tim Wynne-Jones

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Kelsey Gares

on 5 November 2013

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Transcript of Tim Wynne-Jones

The Maestro - Themes
Tim Wynne-Jones
Born on August 12, 1948...born in Britain, but raised in Ottawa, Canada

He is an award winning author for adult and young adult fiction, as well as children’s picture books.

The author of over thirty books, he is a two-time winner of the Governor General's Award, as well as a two-time winner of the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award and of the Arthur Ellis Award.

In 2012 he was made an Officer to the Order of Canada


“I left Toronto to escape the shadow. The shadow is phone calls and luncheon meetings and people wanting me to…teach in New York or lecture in Moscow or just show up at a party and look like a composer” (65).

“She gave him The Red Fairy Book. He thanked her, but when she wasn’t looking, he left it behind in his desk. He was afraid of what Cal might do if he took it home. The only stories that were safe were the ones in his head, wrapped in silence, where Cal couldn’t find them” (17).

#1. How did the Maestro and his unpredictable behavior impact Burl?

#2. What other themes are there in the story?

Burl does not know how a caring household behaves because he has never been a part of a nurturing and loving family. His parents often abuse him based on his decisions and actions. If Carl and Doloris are not angry at Burl, then they forget his existence.
1. “‘Your father’s right about you,’ she said. ‘You’re a friggin’ blockhead’” (20).
This quote reveals that not only is Carl’s drunken and abusive character derogating to Burl but his own mother agrees that Burl is useless. Burl does not receive affection from his family as the only attention he encounters with his parents is criticism and mockery.

2. “‘Here, I’ll teach you something. Then you’ll have to call me Maestro’” (55).
The Maestro is one of the first people that Burl respects. Despite Maestro’s erratic changes in behaviour, he teaches Burl a part of his working oratorio, a very prized music piece. The Maestro has been in demand to teach music all over the world but has always denied proposals. Maestro is patient and willing with Burl to help him learn the chords and movements on the keyboard. Burl felt uneasy for he was scared he might fail the maestro’s expectations; however, when the Maestro played on the piano, Burl felt soothed and calm. This is a moment that Burl has hardly experienced in his childhood as no one took the time to teach him. Burl always taught himself or learned by observing his father.

3. “‘We’d like you to stay,’ said Natalie. ‘No strings.’. . . To say anything would have meant undoing the muscles on his face, which would have been, right then, like undoing the knot at the end of a balloon” (178).
This is the first time Burl experiences compassion, nourishment and protection from a family. He is offered shelter with food, warmth and a bed, fitted clothes, safety and affection. Burl feels wanted, accepted and comfortable for the first time in his life.

-pg (60) “ Burl was on his knees in a flash. It was his father—that was his first thought—breaking the door down with an axe.”

-pg (111) “Burl truly doubted that the Turd-mobile could get this far, but often he woke up sweating to the sound of a sputtering muffler and ran to the window expecting to see a ’63 Plymouth rolling into the yard.”

From the excessive abuse he received from his father that imprinted an emotion of fear into him. From the bear banging on the door, he immediately assumed it was his father and he felt scared that his father found him and he would receive yet another beating. He even has the sound of his father’s car memorized, at home he had a place he would hide in so that his father would not be able to fit through to get him, but being out in the open he didn’t have any places to hide. Therefore, this fear that his father would find him any moment and lash out on him, caused him to relate any sound to his father, like he will never be able to escape his father no matter where he goes.

Burl Crow knows a lot about survival, he knows how to survive in the woods, how to survive from an abusive father, and how to survive from a harsh reality. Without the survival skills that he learnt throughout his young life, he would have never been able to make it as far as he did on his own.

Survival from Cal
“When you lived under the same roof as a man like Cal, you had to be ready to run and hide at a moment’s notice. You learned to recognize the signs of a foul mood. The old turd-mobile arriving in the yard too noisy, the engine revving to high, the car door slamming, footsteps to heavy on the porch. Then you had to be quick” (page 42)

Survival in the Wilderness
“Burl clapped his hands loudly, but the bear stood its ground”
(page 61)

Helping Cal Survive
“‘You gonna offer me any of that?’” he asked. Burl shook his head and kept eating, sucking the lumpy condensed matter into his mouth. He was doing all the work now; and he needed the calories. He wasn’t going to waste his energy explaining that to Cal” (page 207)
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