Death of a Dreamer

The Assassination of John Lennon

  • Interest Level: Grade 6 - Grade 12
  • Reading Level: Grade 7

New York, December 8, 1980: The announcement shocked the world. Beatles founder and legendary musician John Lennon had been murdered in front of his New York home. With no warning, a lone gunman opened fire, shooting Lennon in the back just as Lennon returned from a recording session with his wife, Yoko Ono. Husband, father of two, cultural icon, and hero to millions, Lennon was dead.

Around the globe, people mourned the loss of a man who had stood for peace, a man who had given so much joy to the world through his gift of music. No one had seen it coming…except one man—Mark David Chapman, Lennon’s assassin.

What drove this former Beatles fan to commit such a terrible act? Follow the lives of both Lennon and Chapman, learn about the political and cultural settings in which both grew up, and trace—step by excruciating step—the final moments of John Lennon’s life.

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Interest Level Grade 6 - Grade 12
Reading Level Grade 7
Genre Young Adult
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Twenty-First Century Books ™
Language English
Publication Date 2012-01-01
Reading Counts! Level 7.3
Text Type Narrative Nonfiction
BISACS YAN031000, YAN006050, YAN052050
Dewey 782.42166092
Graphics 1-color illustrations, Full-color illustrations
Lexile 940
ATOS Reading Level 6.7
Accelerated Reader® Quiz 152509
Accelerated Reader® Points 4.0
Features Awards, Bibliography/further reading, Glossary, Index, Reviewed, Sidebars, Source notes, Table of contents, and Timeline

Author: Alison Behnke

Born in Rochester, Minnesota, Alison Behnke had the good fortune to live in Rome, Italy, for three years while in grade school. Not only did this move expand her horizons enormously and introduce her to one of the world’s best and most beautiful cities, but it provided her with a wealth of writing material. Even before her Roman holiday, however, Alison knew that she wanted to be an author—a desire which, according to her parents, she first voiced around age six. Good teachers, avid reading, and a children's librarian for a mother all fed the fire. Alison went on to take a degree in English with a focus on Creative Writing, and at present count she has written more than thirty books. Alison lives in Minneapolis, and when she's neither reading nor writing, she spends her time on pursuits including photography, travel, and striving to make the perfect espresso.


  • SSLI Book Award Honor Book, Commended, 2013


The Horn Book Guide

“Beginning with the announcement of Lennon’s death on December 8, 1980, the author then adeptly presents two chronological biographies of Lennon and Mark David Chapman and comes full circle with a more detailed telling of the events leading up to the assassination. Black-and-white photographs, sidebars, and first-hand accounts enhance and extend a well-researched, engaging narrative.” —The Horn Book Guide

Library Media Connection

“Although 32 years have passed since Lennon’s assassination, his life remains a fascination for many. Tracing the lives of Lennon and Chapman simultaneously provides an insightful lens.” —Library Media Connection

School Library Journal

“This well-documented title should find a home in libraries with deep music and biography collections.” —School Library Journal


“This study offers not only a detailed account of the events surrounding Lennon’s murder but also a lucid—if, as it must be, puzzling and inconclusive—picture of his killer’s life and conflicting, enigmatic motives… Equally useful for its particular focus and as an updated alternative to the plethora of older assignment titles.”—Booklist


“An excellent introduction to an era of history through the lens of John Lennon.” —VOYA