The Dance of the Violin

Joshua loves making music, even with everyday household items. His parents feed into his passion, buying Joshua a violin. Deciding that he wants to play a difficult piece in a Kalamazoo competition, Joshua practices with his teacher to perfect his performance. Joshua chooses this song because he can hear, see, and feel its captivating story. Once at the competition, Joshua stumbles on his first try, tumbling an imaginary dancer onto her face. The piece falls flat. Not yet defeated and determined, a brave Joshua asks the judge to try again. The music comes alive in his mind, the room disappears, and although the reader never learns the outcome of the competition, the actual winner is irrelevant. Joshua has achieved his goal and demonstrated his enthusiastic talent for music.

Joshua’s ambition and story is based on a real person, Joshua Bell, who is now a talented classical violinist. The Dance of the Violin is an entrancing depiction of his childhood and represents music, beauty, and art with the utmost precision and care. Perfect for kindergarten to third graders, readers can relate to what it is like to feel so strongly about a hobby, topic, or interest and work hard to succeed. Petričić’s illustrations enhance this vibrantly and musically charged story. Pencil sketches paired with watercolors add emphasis to key moments. Although Joshua is mostly painted with white coloring, his golden, spikey hair and pink cheeks suggest that he is a ball of energy. In another scene, the imaginary orchestra is gray and black against Joshua’s full coloring, and as he speeds up his learning, he becomes a colorful blur. The passion in this picture book is contagious and uplifting.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Annick Press for providing me with a free ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.

The Dance of the Violin by Kathy Stinson and illustrated by Dušan Petričić (Annick Press, 2017)

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