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Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Dance of the Violin, written by Kathy Stinson and illustrated by Dusan Petricic. Annick Press, 2017. $19.95 ages 4 and up

" ... Joshua's parents drove him to Kalamazoo. For five long hours he practiced his music in his head. By the time they arrived at their hotel, Joshua's insides felt the way the violin sounded if the strings were tuned too tight."

Do you know about Joshua Bell and his exceptional musical performance in a Washington, D.C. subway station? I hope so. It is described in an earlier book called The Man with a Violin (Annick, 2013).

In this book, Kathy Stinson and Dusan Petricic return to share an earlier time in Joshua's life. They show how his love for music at a very young age led him to compete at a very high level. The piece he chose, at age 12, to perform at a competition which could lead to his playing with a full orchestra was much too hard for him. His teacher was not convinced he could do it. Joshua was determined. The training began, and lasted for weeks.

His nerves almost get the better of him.

"Then his fingers
stumbled. His bow
stuttered. The notes
wobbled and - splat! -
tumbled a dancer,
flat on her face."

Joshua could have stopped there. He did not. Instead, he asked if he might start over. The result of that bravery?

"One final note, one final swoop, and Joshua knew -
from every hair on his head to the very tips of his toes -
that he had played better than ever before."


 Mr. Petricic's use of color and movement is the perfect accompaniment to Ms. Stinson's deft tale of tenacity and talent. Readers feel the joy that music brings to this young boy, and envision it through the mixed media artwork so brilliantly created by an accomplished artist.

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