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 The attic barely burst with my father’s old college books, magazine collections, my mother’s outdated fur coat, my father’s university graduation cap and gown, a chest filled with forgotten dolls, photo albums, my grandmother’s antique bed, carpet remnants, and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!