Perfect Picture Book Friday looks at the book I, Vivaldi

When I was a child, the attic was a magical place of discovery. It reminded me of a picture book I loved that contained elaborate, wordless, illustrations in which I always found something new with each viewing. Like that book, our attic held amazing treasures. Everything that couldn’t find a place in our home found a place there. The attic barely burst with my father’s old college books, magazine collections, my mother’s outdated fur coat, my father’s university graduation cap and gown, a chest filled with forgotten dolls, photo albums, my grandmother’s antique bed, carpet remnants, and so much more. One day, back when I was about ten, I made an amazing discovery…a strangely shaped, black, leather case. I took it by it’s cracked handle, set it on the floor before me, and released the latch. Inside, beneath a velvet cover, lay a lovely violin. Two of the strings had snapped, the hairs on the bow were frayed, but the honey-warm, varnished wood picked up every glint of pretty light.

When I showed my father my discovery, he ran a gentle hand over the violin.

“I bought this instrument over thirty years ago when I graduated from college,” he said. “I hoped to someday learn to play it. Maybe you’d like to take lessons?”

I accepted the invitation and challenge. My years of lessons led me to join a youth orchestra and later, in college, a symphony. And years after that, when I walked down the aisle to say my wedding vows, the music of Antonio Vivaldi, one of the greatest violinists and composers, became part of my wedding ceremony. Which leads me to today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review.

Title – I, Vivaldi

Written by  – Janice Shefelman

Illustrated by – Tom Shefelman

Published by – Eerdmans Books for Young Readers – 2008

Suitable for ages – 5-12

Theme – Stay true to your life’s dream.

Opening – Venice 1678

On the day that I, Antonio Lucio Vivaldi, was born, there was an earthquake. My mama heard a rumble from under the ground. Church bells were ringing all over town.

My papa ran up the stairs. “Camilla, we have to get out of the house.”

“But Giovanni,” Mama cried, “the baby is coming. You must go for the midwife!”

Amazon Review –  View it HERE. In this dynamic picture-book biography, told as if by Vivaldi himself, the famous musician’s energetic personality and steadfast dedication to music come alive.

Despite his mother’s vow for him to become a priest, young Vivaldi is only interested in music. He soon grows from a feisty boy who wants to play the violin into a stubborn young man who puts his musical training ahead of his studies for priesthood.

Beautiful, ornate artwork portrays the spirit and splendor of Vivaldi’s hometown, Venice. A historical note, musical score, and glossary will help readers more fully appreciate Vivaldi’s life and musical genius.

Why do I like this book? I have long been fascinated with the stories behind people whose work I admire. Having played the music of Vivaldi, I was thrilled to find this beautifully illustrated treasure. Janice Shefelman chose to tell this story through Vivaldi’s own words, adding a closeness between this great man and the reader. We learn that because of Antonio’s difficulty breathing at birth, his mother promised God that if He spared her son Antonio would become a priest. Conflicted between his mother’s promise to God and his own passion for music, Antonio Vivaldi embarked on both paths. With a loving hand and careful attention to details, Tom Shefelman’s illustrations faithfully recreate the complex and stunning architecture of Venice.  

Learn more about Janice and Tom Shefelman HERE.

Please enjoy this beautiful youtube recording of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons

Find more “Perfect Picture Book Friday” reviews at Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog HERE.

Next Friday, join me for an interview with picture book author, Janet Nolan!

11 thoughts on “Perfect Picture Book Friday looks at the book I, Vivaldi

  1. I loved the connection to your past. I took lessons myself through similar circumstances (ours was in the basement) but with less spectacular results. This book must be extra-special for you. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. How amazing that you, too, found a violin in your basement. I wish I had kept up with it. But after my daughter was born, she threw toys at me when I played the piano or violin. The pediatrician said that babies hearing is very sensitive to high notes and I should either play in the basement or not play at all until she’s older. I waited, and my playing got rusty. Maybe someday, I’ll return to the violin.

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  3. Thanks, Beth,
    I’m glad you visited my blog, and I’m glad you enjoyed my story that goes along with today’s book review. After learning how to play the violin, my father took a powerful interest in learning how to build violins. He studied with a violin maker and eventually succeeded in making the violin that I played when I joined the symphony. It was a piece of art and love.

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  4. What a wonderful introduction! I’ve never lived in a house with a real attic. They seem so magical to me – knowing they must hold treasures of all sorts. (I even have a poem coming out in Highlights Magazine, one of these days, titled Grandpa’s Attic.) I love how you found your dad’s violin, which started your musical journey. (I played the cello for a short time.) Thanks for sharing this book…and his music! I’m listening to it as I write this. I usually prefer ‘quiet’ when I’m writing, but I’m going to see where Vivaldi may take me! Thanks, Leslie!

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  5. Maria, I don’t know exactly what to say… I’m happy that Vivaldi’s “Spring” played an important part in your wedding, but at the same time, I’m deeply saddened at the loss of your husband. Loving Vivaldi’s music as much as you do, I’m sure you will enjoy the book I reviewed this week.

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