I’ve been gripped by Susan Hood’s Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay, with illustrations by Sally Wern Comport, ever since my first reading of the book. Maybe because it is such a testament to the fact that beauty can be found even in the bleakest of places, but definitely because I’m mesmerized by the devotion and ingenuity of the children in this story and their ability to make something from nothing.
Ada’s Violin tells the story of Ada Rios, a young girl growing up in Cateura, a small town in Paraguay built on a landfill. The community feeds themselves by sorting through the trash that arrives from the capital city of Asuncion, and they make money by salvaging items which they promptly recycle and sell. Ada dreams of music, and when a music teacher by the name of Favio Chavez arrives, he begins to hold music classes for the children in the town. But musical instruments were short, so Chavez and the town’s recyclers begin to fashion all sorts of beautiful instruments from the treasures they find in the dump. With their refurbished instruments, tons of dedication, and a whole lot of heart, Ada and the other children form the Recycled Orchestra. Their orchestra eventually garners national and international attention, bringing their music – together with a message of beauty and resourcefulness – to audiences worldwide.
Ada’s Violin is a gorgeous work of nonfiction, especially for those of you with older readers at home (the story was a bit too mature for my three year old, but I loved it so much that I couldn’t help but review it). The collage illustrations are expressive and beautiful. The extension activities and ideas this book can spark are unquantifiable. But mostly, I love how this story speaks to the heart – to the power of longing and dedication and working towards a goal that will summon light from darkness. There is a transcendent power in music, and Ada’s Violin captures this power and runs with it to create such a stunning read. The narrative is steeped in hope, and it conveys the significant message that children have the power to turn their dreams into reality.
Want the book? Get it here! Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay, by Susan Hood.
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