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Fiddle Fever

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Although it is 1914 and the world is changing all around him, Felix LeBlanc feels trapped on his Louisiana farmhouse, where nothing ever happens. When he hears his uncle, ’Nonc Adolphe, play the fiddle for the first time, he knows there’s music in his blood, and he’s determined to be a musician, too. However, he’s too poor to buy his own fiddle, and to make matters worse, Maman has forbidden him to even touch one, fearing that he’ll choose the wayward life of a fiddler. And so Felix begins to build his own fiddle...

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Fiddle Fever

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Overview

Although it is 1914 and the world is changing all around him, Felix LeBlanc feels trapped on his Louisiana farmhouse, where nothing ever happens. When he hears his uncle, ’Nonc Adolphe, play the fiddle for the first time, he knows there’s music in his blood, and he’s determined to be a musician, too. However, he’s too poor to buy his own fiddle, and to make matters worse, Maman has forbidden him to even touch one, fearing that he’ll choose the wayward life of a fiddler. And so Felix begins to build his own fiddle out of a crude cigar box and a piece of cypress wood, keeping it a secret from his family and even his best friend, Chance. It is a solitary journey that will require all of his ingenuity—and place at risk the relationships that are dearest to him.

Set against the colorful backdrop of the Cajun bayous, Fiddle Fever relays an important message about the universal need for self-expression and the compromises we must all make in our search for individuality. Glossary of French terms.

In 1914, fourteen-year-old Felix LeBlanc feels stifled by life on his family's farm in Louisiana and after hearing his wayward uncle play the fiddle, Felix decides that he wants to be a fiddler too, even if it means making his own fiddle and going against his parents' wishes.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"the langniappe for this [Creole] atmosphere is Doucet's easy use of similes, which stick to the native dialect like gravy on rice." Horn Book

"A book not to be missed." School Library Journal, Starred

"to be enjoyed by those who would follow their own passion no matter what the context" Kirkus Reviews

Children's Literature
To Felix LeBlanc, it seems that nothing in the world will ever change. It is 1914, and his family's Louisiana farm is a wonderful place for the fourteen-year-old. His friend Chance and his little brother Paolo are all the companions he needs. His teachers are, well, teachers. Maman and Papa are strict but fair until Maman's brother, 'Nonc Adolphe, comes back home. He has been wandering the country as an itinerant violinist. Maman welcomes him home; he says he has had enough roaming and he is ready to be a farmer again. When Felix hears his uncle play his violin, he is captivated. From that moment, all he wants is a violin and to make music like 'Nonc Adolphe. Felix learns that his grandfather had been a musician and had been able to combine farming and music. 'Nonc Adolphe inherited the music, but not the ability to stay put. Maman loves her brother but doesn't want her son to be like him. As for buying Felix a violin, Papa says there isn't enough money, and Maman makes her wishes quite clear—Felix is to give up the very idea of music. To go against the family's wishes is unthinkable for a Cajun boy. But with the help of a merchant who just happens to have a wooden cigar box, Felix secretly makes his own violin. He learns to play it, too, and joins the neighborhood band when Carnival time comes. Then 'Nonc Adolphe gives up settled life again. Will Felix join him in the wandering life? If he does, will Maman ever forgive him? By the end of the story, Felix has learned about a lot more than music. 2000, Clarion Books. Ages 9 to 12. Reviewer: Judy Silverman
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8-A superb story of a boy's coming-of-age in the bayous of South Louisiana in the early days of World War I. In a first-person narrative, F lix Octave LeBlanc tells about the first time he heard his long-absent uncle, `Nonc Adolphe, play the fiddle at a get-together. "The music latched onto something inside of me, as if each note was plucking a string that I hadn't even known was there." From that moment on, all F lix wants to do is play the fiddle, against his parents' wishes. He fashions a violin from an old cigar box, wood, and wire, and secretly teaches himself to play. During the Mardi Gras festivities, he hides behind a costume and mask and joins the Cajun band circling his neighborhood. Unfortunately, made bold by whiskey and pride in his accomplishments, he is unmasked and faces the unpleasant consequences of his actions when he falls from the wagon. Questions of responsibility, obedience, loyalty, self-discovery, friendship, and maturity are all seamlessly woven into the story, underpinned by a sense of the Cajuns' steadfast reverence for church and family. The whole becomes an excellent novel of a boy's growing up, offering a comprehensive historical picture of Cajun life and values, and, most of all, a compelling depiction of the power of music in people's lives. A book not to be missed.-Judith Constantinides, formerly at East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, LA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Inspired by the story of the late Creole fiddler Canray Fontenot, Doucet ( Why Lapin's Ears Are Long, 1997) tells of 14-year-old Felix LeBlanc and his passion for music. Told in the first person and set in 1914 in the Cajun community of rural Louisiana, the novel exudes the flavor of the time and place and offers up a smattering of French, defined in a helpful glossary. When Felix hears his Uncle Adolphe play his fiddle, his soul is transported and he determines to become a fiddler himself. Felix's mother, however, forbids her son to take up the instrument or even to utter the word fiddle at home. Readers will feel that the lady doth protest too much though her vehemence is plausible: she fears that her son, like her brother Adolphe, will become a vagabond and reject family and responsibility. The close-knit Cajuns scorn the idea of going against one's family, but Felix knows in his heart that he must play music. In secret he painstakingly builds a fiddle out of a wooden cigar box and a length of cypress wood. After teaching himself to play, Felix disguises himself in costume and mask and joins a Mardi Gras band, but his secret is revealed when he falls off the parade wagon. He suffers broken bones and worse: his fiddle is burned and he faces the continued repudiation of his mother. In an ending that is not entirely believable, he meets up with Uncle Adolphe while both are running away from their constraining lives. Adolphe urges Felix to go back and gives the boy his own precious fiddle. Upon his return, Felix discovers that his mother has undergone a complete change of heart, having realized that her opposition has caused him to take drastic measures. All isforgiven, andshe even encourages Felix to play the fiddle, a family heirloom. This will be a hard sell—too bad because it's well written and Felix is an admirable, fully realized character. Many readers won't relate to the unfamiliar setting or the passion for Cajun fiddling; this remains to be enjoyed by those who would follow their own passion no matter the context. (author's note, glossary, lyrics) (Fiction. 10-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618043248
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 9/28/2000
  • Edition description: None
  • Pages: 176
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Lexile: 870L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Sharon Arms Doucet is the author OF WHY LAPIN'S EARS ARE LONG and LE HOOGIE BOOGIE SONGBOOK: LOUISIANA FRENCH MUSIC FOR CHILDREN. When she is not writing, Ms. Doucet sings and performs in the Doucet Family Band, along with her fiddler husband, Michael, and their three children. She lives in Lafayette, Louisiana.

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Table of Contents

A Note from the Author ix
Chapter 1 'Nonc Adolphe 3
Chapter 2 Restless Streaks 14
Chapter 3 Secrets of the Universe 20
Chapter 4 Square Roots 35
Chapter 5 Dreams and Schemes 47
Chapter 6 Joyeux Noel 58
Chapter 7 A New Year 69
Chapter 8 "La Chanson de Mardi Gras" 80
Chapter 9 Mardi Gras Madness 94
Chapter 10 Breaks 107
Chapter 11 Penance 118
Chapter 12 The Chosen Ones 130
Chapter 13 Six Sides to a Brick 142
Chapter 14 Housewarming 156
Glossary 163
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