The Man with the Violin

By Kathy Stinson and Dušan Petričić (illustrations)
Published on August 8th 2013
Published by Annick Press

Source: Netgalley
"Who is playing that beautiful music in the subway? And why is nobody listening?"

This gorgeous picture book is based on the true story of Joshua Bell, the renowned American violinist who famously took his instrument down into the Washington D.C. subway for a free concert. More than a thousand commuters rushed by him, but only seven stopped to listen for more than a minute. In "The Man With the Violin," bestselling author Kathy Stinson has woven a heart-warming story that reminds us all to stop and appreciate the beauty that surrounds us.

Dylan is someone who notices things. His mom is someone who doesn't. So try as he might, Dylan can't get his mom to listen to the man playing the violin in the subway station. But Dylan is swept away by the soaring and swooping notes that fill the air as crowds of oblivious people rush by. With the beautiful music in his head all day long, Dylan can't forget the violinist, and finally succeeds in making his mother stop and listen, too.

Vividly imagined text combined with illustrations that pulse with energy and movement expertly demonstrate the transformative power of music. With an afterword explaining Joshua Bell's story, and a postscript by Joshua Bell himself.
This is the kind of picture book I love. In the same vain as true story The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordical Gerstein, Kathy Stinson bring a little known moment in history alive for children. Young Dylan may not be a real child, but world-renowned violinist Joshua Bell claims that many children stopped to listen to him when he played in the subway one day in 2007, only to be pulled away by their parents. Dylan was modeled after those children.

I enjoyed Petričić’s illustrations because they truly put the focus on the music and Dylan’s experience with it. Dylan and Bell are usually portrayed as bright, colorful figures against the boring, black and white bustle of the Washington, DC subway station and all of the people ignore the music. In the final pages, when Dylan and his mother hear Bell’s music on the radio, Dylan is literally twirled away in a swirl of color, and soon joined by his mother, who realizes the power of Bell’s music in that moment.

A short bio of Bell and an explanation of the experiment in his own words follow the text, which add educational enrichment for parents to share with their children.

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