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Children's Fiction Music

Mr. Mergler, Beethoven, and Me

by (author) David Gutnick

illustrated by Mathilde Cinq-Mars

Second Story Press
Initial publish date
Mar 2018
Music, Death & Dying
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2018
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 7 to 10
  • Grade: 2 to 4
  • Reading age: 7 to 10


Not long after arriving in Canada from China, a young girl and her father bump into a kind old man at their local park. They have no idea that he has been teaching young people music for over fifty years. Mr. Mergler can hear music in a way that most of us can’t, and he knows that this little girl has a talent that, with encouragement, will grow into something magical. He offers to give her music lessons, a gift that will tie them together forever.
This story is inspired by events in the life of Daniel Mergler—a wonderful musician who loved to teach and whose generous spirit inspires author and journalist David Gutnick to this day.

About the authors

David Gutnick makes radio documentaries for CBC/Radio-Canada. Over the past 30 years he's done stories on former child slaves in Togo, secret religious services in Beijing, and ballet dancers in an American maximum-security prison. He also writes about art and trains for Ironman triathlons. David lives in Montreal with his wife and dog, and has a grown daughter and stepson.

David Gutnick's profile page

Born in Quebec, Mathilde Cinq-Mars is a graduate of the Université de Strasbourg in visual arts. Recent illustration projects include Mr. Mergler, Beethoven, and Me and the Acadian song collection Grande Tintamarre! Her illustrations have also been exposed at the Art Gallery of Ontario as part of the Youth Solidarity Project, at the Seigneurie d'Anhaive in Belgium, and at the Cabinet Amateur in France. She lives and works in Trois-Rivières, Quebec, with her daughter and a lot dried flowers.

Mathilde Cinq-Mars' profile page


  • Commended, Canadian Children's Book Centre Best Books of 2018

Editorial Reviews

Author Gutnick manages to successfully portray the deep bond that Mergler built with all of students. This touching story displays Mergler’s kindness, generosity and sincerity. The full page, colour illustrations, created by Mathilde Cinq-Mars, are as soft and beautiful as Mergler’s soul.

CM: Canadian Review of Materials

Cinq-Mars' delicate sketches, hand-drawn in color pencil, frame Gutnick's quiet text with charm and whimsy. The affection between the narrator and her teacher, as well as within her family, is palpable.... A heartwarming story about the magic of music, intergenerational relationships, and believing.

Kirkus Reviews

Gutnick's story skilfully conveys the growing confidence of his young narrator, and her absorption in an art. The delicate illustrations of Mathilde Cinq-Mars evoke the strong-though-contained emotions of the characters and the flowering of musical talent.

Quill & Quire

"Inspired by a true story, David Gutnick has written a heart-warming account about how an elderly man's selfless offer to teach piano to a young girl transforms both their lives."

Canadian Children's Booknews

“This gentle story is perfect for readers of all ages, especially those interested in classical music…Mr. Mergler, Beethoven, and Me is a perfect picture book for schools and public libraries for appreciating the power of music, love, and friendship.”

Resource Links

Cinq-Mars's illustrations, in gentle shades of green, gold, and pink, do a beautiful job of weaving musical symbols and luxuriant foliage together on every page.... This is a sweet story about the transformative power of music.

Montreal Review of Books

Other titles by Mathilde Cinq-Mars