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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Man with the Violin, written by Kathy Stinson and illustrated by Dusan Petricic. Annick Press, 2013. $19.95 ages 4 and up

The high notes soar to the ceiling. The low notes swoop to the floor. All the notes swirl and sweep around the blur of people rushing here and there. The music is telling an exciting story..."

Kathy Stinson begins her newest book with two telling statements:

"Dylan was someone who noticed things.
His mom was someone who didn't."

Sometimes I sit and watch the street from my front window (I have the time to do that; I am mostly retired) and watch the people passing by. Occasionally, a parent and child walk past on their way to somewhere else. Too often, the parent is totally engrossed in the smartphone being carried, or listening to music with ear buds. And I wonder what they are missing. Now, it's been a while since our kids were small (and we didn't have cell phones then), but I hope that we took the time to be in the present with them as we walked, allowing them a chance to share and ask their pressing questions. I actually celebrated the other day when I saw a young dad and his son engaged in conversation as they walked along the sidewalk. And, I thought how truly lucky they both were!

Too often adults don't notice what is important and very noticeable to children. Little ones have a persistent curiosity and an amazing sense of wonder. We need always to remind ourselves that we just can't be 'too busy' to listen to their questions, their joys, their concerns.

In this book that celebrates music, Kathy Stinson weaves her magic to share a true story. Here's what she has to say about it and where stories come from, and also a chance to hear what the brilliant Dusan Petricic says about the artwork created for Kathy's remarkable story:

As you can see from the title illustration above, this is a story about a little boy and the music. Then, in the first double page spread, the artist makes it clear that Dylan notices 'everything' that is at his level, while his mother is oblivious to all but her own forward motion.

As Dylan's mind fills with the lovely music that he can hear in the subway station, he recognizes its lilting sounds and the beauty of the moment. He cannot get it out of his head:

"All day the music Dylan heard that morning plays in his head."

He doesn't hear it again on their way home, but he does hear it on the radio and realizes it is the very musician he heard earlier. He is inspired and convinces his mother that she should pay attention. FINALLY...they listen together to the 'most elegant music ever written'!
It's difficult for me to describe the truly amazing accompanying illustrations. Dusan Petricic is able to capture the quality of the music and its allure for this young boy. He colorfully contrasts the boy and his mother to the bleak gray of the subway station. He makes the music come alive in swirling washes of color and movement. That music follows Dylan as he and his mother make their way out of the station, but never leaves Dylan's consciousness as he goes about his day, unable to forget its distinct beauty. I love the black dissonance of the lines that symbolize the ugly sounds of the subway and the crowds. Stunning!

I think it's very important that we all pay attention to this wonderful book!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a good book. You're right - sometimes we are so engrossed in the busy-ness of life, that we miss the beauty. Excellent review!