Tuesday, 30 July 2013

The Man with the Violin by Katy Stinson and Dusan Petricic (Annick Press)

A child's curiosity, there's nothing quite like it. Stimulating a child's sense of wonder is a fine thing to do, through whatever talents you have. In "The Man With The Violin" there's a subtle admonishment for parents who are "too busy" to listen to their children, or spend quality time with them and I wholly approve of this. Witnessing a scene at the weekend where a child desperately tried to redirect their mother's attention away from her phone (unsuccessfully) to show her something fantastic going on at a Victorian Weekend organised by the National Trust made me wonder why some parents bother to have children at all, if they're that much of an inconvenience or an intrusion into their own precious lives.

Rant over. This book is special, not just because of the aforementioned moral lesson aimed squarely at inattentive parents, but because it celebrates the magic of music, of hearing music in an unexpected place.

Hearing a busker playing a violin in an underground station, a young boy's head is filled with the divine music the busker played for the rest of the day. Excitedly, the boy realises that the music comes from other places too, but he can't stop thinking about "The Man with the Violin".

Look at the cover image we used in our header, and also look at the boy's interaction with his mother throughout the book. This is where I felt the book's real message was being conveyed, though it is also a divine celebration of how music can affect you, deep down to your very soul.

Based on a true story, Joshua Bell (the musician the book is based on) did exactly this at a subway station in the US and I'd like to think that amongst the busy commuters rushing to work there were little children just like the little boy in this book who stopped to soak up that beautiful sound as the adult world rushed by, then gasped with delight as they heard similar music on the radio, or in a store, or in an elevator.

I love how Dusan Petricic picks out the musician and the boy (and the music itself) in beautiful colours to starkly contrast against the largely grey world they inhabit.

A beautiful beautiful book with a message that we, as parents, need to pay close heed to.

Charlotte's best bit: Tracing a finger to follow the beautiful music as it weaves its way through the crowds.

Daddy's favourite bit: A book that tells you, subtly, to put your smartphone down, kneel down, and listen to what your children are saying. It's imporant, and they're children for such a short time. Pay attention to them, they are yours and want to be yours, make sure they know that you treasure, love and value them as much as possible.

(Kindly sent to us via Netgalley by Annick Press for review)