Can a violin be worth more than a house? Find out this Perfect Picture Book Friday.

A number of blog posts ago, I wrote about the violin I found and learned to play when I was a child. I discovered the instrument in a chipped and nibbled case down in the attic. (Yes, you read that right. My childhood home had a roomy attic/loft in the basement.) When I found the honey-gold instrument, two strings were strung, and two strings had long snapped and curled off to the sides. The varnish was worn, and the instrument needed repairs and love.

When I showed the violin to my father and asked him who it belonged to, he told me the violin was his. He had purchased it countless years ago with the intentions to, one day, learn to make a violin.

Dad made phone calls, found a teacher in the area, and signed me up for violin lessons. After learning how to turn the sounds of cat squeals into pleasing music, I was ready to join a youth orchestra. That was around the time my Dad realized he was ready to dust off his dream. He read book after book after book on violin making, befriended a violin maker who offered instruction and set out with great determination to make a violin for me.

This brings us to today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday book about a girl with a dream to play the violin in a place where a violin is worth more than a house.

Title – Ada’s Violin

Written – Susan Hood

Illustrated by – Sally Wern Comport

Published by- Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers — 2016

Topics – recycling, music, determination

Opening – Ada Rios grew up in a town made of trash.

(Gotta admit, I’m curious to learn more. What about you?)

Synopsis from Amazon –From award-winning author Susan Hood and illustrator Sally Wern Comport comes the extraordinary true tale of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay, an orchestra made up of children playing instruments built from recycled trash.

Ada Ríos grew up in Cateura, a small town in Paraguay built on a landfill. She dreamed of playing the violin, but with little money for anything but the bare essentials, it was never an option…until a music teacher named Favio Chávez arrived. He wanted to give the children of Cateura something special, so he made them instruments out of materials found in the trash. It was a crazy idea, but one that would leave Ada—and her town—forever changed. Now, the Recycled Orchestra plays venues around the world, spreading their message of hope and innovation.

Why do I like this book? The main character, Ada, holds a powerful dream to play the violin in Cateura, Paraguay, a small city developed on top of a massive dump. In this impoverished place, a violin is worth more than a house. When her music teacher sets out to turn trash into musical instruments, including a violin made from an old paint can, an aluminum baking tray, a fork, and pieces of wooden crates, Ada proves that passion + practice = perfection.

Learn more about Susan Hood HERE.

Learn more about Sally Wern Comport HERE.

Learn more about The Recycled Orchestra of Cateura in the videos below.

Until next Friday!

21 thoughts on “Can a violin be worth more than a house? Find out this Perfect Picture Book Friday.

    • I’m not sure which drew me into the book first, the title or the cover illustration, but once I read the story and researched the Recycled Orchestra I was both hooked and amazed. I’m glad you enjoyed my little back story about my Dad’s violin. I love starting my posts off with a story from my childhood. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. That’s an amazing story. I’ve never heard of a town built on a garbage dump OR instruments made from trash.
    Thanks for sharing the book and those videos!
    PS I tried to click on your Susan and Sally links but they don’t seem to be working.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this book and the story behind it. The story shared by the grandmother about why she picks trash for her grandchildren broke my heart. And the situation that these kids are born into is also heartbreaking. But so amazing that this man is helping these kids lift themselves up in so many ways. And that others are now helping.

    But I can’t believe you left us hanging about the violin your father decided to make. What HAPPENED????

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Jilanne, What happened to the violin my father decided to make??? Here’s the rest of the story. My dad spent more than a year building that violin, and when he held it in his hands, and when he heard me play it, he knew he had found his passion. From that day on, every evening when he finished his work day, (astrophysicist) he disappeared into his workshop. I listened through the door, listening to the sound of wood being chipped, sanded, carved, and shaped as my father continued to make violin #2, 3, 4, and more. Around the time when I graduated from high school and was heading off to a college with a strong music program and orchestra, (Lawrence University in Appleton, WI.) my father presented me with a graduation present of the violin he had, at last, perfected. When I played my bow across the strings, I felt as if I were hearing angels sing. It was the finest gift I ever received in my life.

      Liked by 1 person

      • oh, I am crying. What a gloriously exquisite gift! And what an amazing father! Your violin is priceless. Do you still play?? I used to play the violin in middle school and for a couple of years in high school. Thirty years later, I decided to rent (and then buy) a violin from a local maker here in San Francisco. I also took up the piano again (digital piano with nice key action), but I play both at a beginner level because I play so infrequently. It gives me pleasure when I play, so I try not to be too critical of my sound. The making of music should be a joyful experience. I would love to hear you play that violin! I’ll never forget hearing Interpreti Veneziani play Vivaldi’s Four Seasons in Venice, on historic stradivari instruments. It was an out of body experience.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this picture book & I’m so glad you’re featuring it today. The young musicians & those turning trash into instruments is so inspiring. I love the story about the violin you found in your house growing up, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Leslie, allow me to add a belated voice of thanks for your post. What a loving book and inspiring story. I recall watching the 60 Minutes story and it also reminded me of how much I miss journalist Bob Simon.

    This may sound silly, but the book makes me think I have no more excuses to begin learning to play my ukulele. The families of this community are angels on earth.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you enjoyed this post, Sheila. These amazing instruments, built from trash finds, produce remarkable sounds.

      And yes, if you have spare time, give your ukulele a try. Maybe you can bring it along later this month and play at our poetry gathering! 🙂

      SCBWI Marvelous Midwest 2019 was better than marvelous! I’m glad you were there to share that three-day power-learning experience with me.


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