BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

The Man with the Violin by Kathy Stinson, illustrated by Dušan Petričić, with a postscript by Joshua Bell

Man with the ViolinGo ahead … open to the first spread: “Dylan was someone who noticed things. His mom was someone who didn’t.” Illustrator Dušan Petričić couldn’t have devised a more effective way of showing author Kathy Stinson‘s telling! Flying straight across the page, young Dylan’s contrail is filled with technicolor details of everything he passes – the mismatched rubber boots, the colorful candy, the misbuttoned jacket, the cost of a radio, someone’s pink phone. His mother, in contrast, has just a long empty space erasing everything in her path as she pulls Dylan forward with determination. Look familiar? Here’s a much-needed reminder that we all need to slowwwwwwwwwww down …

What happened that Friday in January was one of those impossible, magical events that will never, ever be repeated. As Dylan and his mother hustled and bustled through the subway station, Dylan recognized something extraordinary was happening and tried desperately to convince his mother to stop and simply listen to the music so entrancing that it made “the hairs on the back of Dylan’s neck tickle.” But like everyone else, his mother had somewhere else to go …

At home that afternoon, Dylan hears the music once more on the radio: “‘That’s the man in the station!'” And finally he gets to tell his mother, “‘We should have stopped. We should have listened,'” because that man was none other than Joshua Bell, “one of the finest musicians in the world … playing some of the most elegant music ever written, on one of the most valuable violins ever made.” The sad irony is that ” … few people listened for even a minute.” The saddest of all, though? This story is true. And it happened right here in the nation’s capital.

On January 12, 2007, Joshua Bell performed in DC’s L’Enfant Plaza Metro Station on his priceless Stradivarius as part of an experiment devised by The Washington Post. Of the 1,000-plus commuters passing through, only seven stopped to listen for more than a minute. Only children tried in vain to stop, but their accompanying adult had no time for such nonsense. To hear Bell play costs $100 and much, much more in the most lauded music venues all over the world; that day, after 43 minutes of unparalleled performance, his violin case held $32.17. Bell himself adds a final “Postscript.” But that you’ll need to read for yourself … through your regretful tears!

Tidbit: Check out this fabulous book video (and you can hear some of the gorgeous music in the background, too). Stinson’s parting words couldn’t be better said: “The world’s not a bad place if we pay attention a little bit more.”

Readers: Children

Published: 2013


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