Friday, July 26, 2013

Review: The Man with the Violin by Kathy Stinson; art by Dušan Petričić

Who is playing that beautiful music in the subway? And why is nobody listening?
On January 12, 2007, the world-famous violinist Joshua Bell took part in an experiment conducted by the Washington Post. What would happen if Bell played his violin in a subway station? Would anyone stop to listen? Dressed as an ordinary street musician and with his priceless Stradivarius in hand, Bell played for 43 minutes in the L’Enfant Plaza Station in Washington, D.C. Over 1,000 busy commuters rushed past. Only seven stopped to listen for more than a minute. Many children had wanted to stop, but an adult inevitably rushed them along. Inspired by this event, author Kathy Stinson imagines what a child who had wanted to stop might have experienced. From this emerged the lovely story of The Man with the Violin.
When young Dylan hears the beautiful music, he tries to get his mother to stop and listen, but like everyone else rushing past, she is focused on catching the train. The strains of the music linger in his head all day long until that evening, when he hears the same music being played on the radio. The announcer reveals who the violinist was and why he was playing in the subway station. As Dylan is swept up again by the gorgeous sound, his mother finally stops and listens too.  
Award-winning illustrator Dušan Petričić eagerly embraced the challenge of rendering Stinson’s lyrical text in a way that would capture Dylan’s emotions while interpreting the sounds he heard. With his skillful use of color and imaginative depiction of all the sounds in the subway station, Petričić succeeds in providing the perfect match for the poignant words. Together, Stinson and Petričić have created a picture book classic that reminds us all to open our eyes and ears to discover the beauty around us.
A short biography of Joshua Bell, a recap of the story that inspired this book, and a postscript by Joshua Bell enhance this wonderful tribute to the power of music.

There aren't many street musicians where I'm from, but most people here tend to ignore or shut them out too.

In The Man with the Violin, a young boy finds the music of a violinist irresistible. However, his mother drags him along. He ends up thinking about the music all day until later on, he and his mother find out who the violinist is.

I like music a lot and I play the piano and guitar so I have a deep appreciation for musicians. As such, I found the story sweet and inspiring, especially since it shows that lots of kids found the music fascinating. It shows that people, especially kids, have an innate connection to music.

While the illustration style isn't really my thing, I liked the coloring a lot. The pictures make use of a lot of black and white and other colors are used to emphasis certain characters or elements.

Thanks to NetGalley and Annick Press Ltd. for the e-copy.


  1. The story is heartwarming.
  2. The coloring style is pretty.
  3. The last part of the book details the inspiration for the story.


  1. The illustration style might not work for everyone.

The music is telling an exciting story.

  1. You are a musician.
  2. Your child likes music.
  3. You often ignore street musicians.




Note: This post contains Amazon and Book Depository affiliate links.

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