CM . . .
. Volume XXIII Number 36. . . .May 26, 2017
The Dance of the Violin.
Kathy Stinson. Illustrated by Dušan Petricic.
Toronto, ON: Annick Press, 2017.
32pp., hardcover, epub & pdf, $19.95 (hc.)
ISBN 978-1-55451-900-2 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-55451-901-9 (epub), ISBN 978-1-55451-902-6 (pdf).
Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.
Review by Reesa Cohen.
From the time he was very young, Joshua loved making music.
He drummed on pots. He trumpeted into cardboard tubes.
After his parents found him strumming elastic bands, they bought him a violin.
When he played his first song, a twinkling star appeared above his head.
When he learned other songs, whole stories poured from his violin.
Joshua’s love of music and his new instrument is boundless. His desire to enter a musical competition in Kalamazoo, the winner of which gets the opportunity to play with “a real life orchestra!!!!”, is overpowering. Even though he is discouraged by his teacher because it is his first competition and he has chosen “a very difficult piece, even for adults”, a determined Joshua will not be deterred. As he explains, this is a piece of music that tells a story! His passion wins his teacher over. He practices with dedication and determination, playing with a metronome to help with his rhythm and speed. His nervousness and worries are apparent to his mom and dad who offer this advice. “No matter what happens, just remember how much you love that music.” When it is finally Joshua’s turn, he confidently begins, but an error occurs in his playing and “the notes wobbled and - splat - !” Courageously, Joshua asks to begin again. As he visualizes his music, he is able to play superbly.
Kathy Stinson is an amazing storyteller. This time she creates a tale of second chances and persistence. Those of us who are familiar with her writing and have used her books when teaching have come to rely on her strong and authentic narrative voice. Her well-placed adjectives and vivid poetic text capture Joshua’s devotion. Even his stress is conveyed in a delightful and all “too real way” with apt descriptions that beg to be read aloud. Matched by Dušan Petricic’s drawings, full of flowing movement, the end results are remarkable. Like the author, this illustrator is able to capture Joshua’s imagination and the swirling sounds made by his violin. Using mixed media, many of the double page spreads show soft grey and white sketches to indicate an audience or orchestra, with Joshua and his violin in full warm colours. The joy of this violinist and his love of music just leap off the page.
The last page offers some factual insight as to the real life of this violinist, his first competition and affirm that this event did indeed happen to the world renowned Joshua Bell. It is also worth noting and even reading to students the book’s dedication page for insight into the book as well as what is important to the creators of this treasure.
How fortunate we are to have, once again, a successful pairing of this incredibly talented duo who, in 2013, told a tale based on a true life event involving Joshua Bell in the beautifully written The Man with the Violin.
Reesa Cohen is a retired Instructor of Children’s Literature and Information Literacy at the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, MB.
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