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The Man With the Violin

The Man With the Violin

4.3 6
by Kathy Stinson, DuAsan Petricic (Illustrator), Joshua Bell (Afterword)

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Who is playing that beautiful music in the subway? And why is nobody listening? This gorgeous picture book is based on the true story of Joshua Bell, the renowned American violinist who famously took his instrument down into the Washington D.C. subway for a free concert. More than a thousand commuters rushed by him, but only seven stopped to listen for more than a


Who is playing that beautiful music in the subway? And why is nobody listening? This gorgeous picture book is based on the true story of Joshua Bell, the renowned American violinist who famously took his instrument down into the Washington D.C. subway for a free concert. More than a thousand commuters rushed by him, but only seven stopped to listen for more than a minute. In The Man with the Violin, bestselling author Kathy Stinson has woven a heart-warming story that reminds us all to stop and appreciate the beauty that surrounds us. Dylan is someone who notices things. His mom is someone who doesn’t. So try as he might, Dylan can’t get his mom to listen to the man playing the violin in the subway station. With the beautiful music in his head all day long, Dylan can’t forget the violinist, and finally succeeds in making his mother stop and listen, too. Vividly imagined text combined with illustrations that pulse with energy expertly demonstrate the transformative power of music. With a postscript explaining Joshua Bell’s story, and afterword by Joshua Bell himself.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
“In January of 2007, over a thousand people heard me play my violin in the L’Enfant Plaza Metro Station in Washing­ton, D.C. But very few actually listened,” writes musician Joshua Bell in a postscript to a picture book based on that event. According to Bell, a few children tried to stay and listen, but were hustled along by their parents—which is exactly what happens to a (fictional) boy in this story. “Dylan was someone who noticed things,” writes Stinson (Red Is Best). Petricic (Mr. Zinger’s Hat) provides a wonderful visual representation of Dylan’s attentiveness as boy and mother dash through the dull, gray metro station. White contrails streak behind them, and Dylan’s highlights colorful objects and people that have caught his eye (his mother’s contrail, meanwhile is blank). Swirls of colors show how Bell’s music enchants Dylan, and at times the boy is literally born aloft by the music he hears and remembers. In a world of sounds that aren’t always as pleasant as a Stradivarius, Stinson and Petricic remind readers young (and especially old) to stop and listen to the arpeggios. Ages 5–8. (Sept.)
Book Page - Julie Hale
There's plenty to ponder in this melodious tale. It's a story that's bound to get kids thinking about the importance of listening. And, of course, the power of music.
Sal's Fiction Addiction - Sally Bender
I think it's very important that we all pay attention to this wonderful book!
Smithsonian BookDragon - Terry Hong
Here's a much-needed reminder that we all need to slowwwwwwwwwww down.
Canadian Children's Book News - Robin Sales
This compelling story has a clear message for young and old, and features an inspiring young talent as a role model. It also provides the possibility of an enriched read aloud experience thanks to the links provided for musical accompaniment. The Man with the Violin captures the reader's imagination just as the violinist's music enthralls its young protagonist. This story reminds us that there is much in life to appreciate, if we can just pay attention.
CanLit for Little Canadians - Helen K
A brilliant portrayal of the sensitivities of children and the sad loss of that wonder by most adults... [In] 2007, [Joshua] Bell played his 1713 Stradivarius for transit goers for 45 minutes. Only 7 of over a thousand people stopped to watch...[but] every single time a child walked past, he or she tried to stop and watch. And every single time, a parent scooted the kid away. Kathy Stinson takes this astounding demographic and tells the story of a child who becomes enthralled by the music that he hears as his mother pulls him along on her way to work... Only when he hears the same music on the radio can Dylan get his mother's attention and take her along on his magical musical ride... Kathy Stinson's simple but powerful representation [is a] convincing message of the capacity of music to enrich our lives and the wisdom of children that is too often and too easily disregarded.
CM Magazine - Reesa Cohen
In the hands of such skilful creators, who have many books to their credit, this captivating tale is a beautiful balance between a simple but powerful text and illustrations that are full of vitality and rhythm.
Cozy Little Book Journal - Mary Lavers
The drawings almost dance off the page.
This is a phenomenal book.
Reading and Sharing
I want to read it over and over again. I want for others to read it. I want for schools and libraries to use it to teach music appreciation. I want it to get attention, lots of attention, because that's what it deserves.
This book is a celebration of music and a great reminder to take the time to appreciate beauty that surrounds us. An interesting account of the real event is provided at the back. This was such an interesting story and one that I can see would be the starting point for some excellent class discussions. I can't wait to share this with my students. Love it!
Simcoe County - Terri Schlichenmeyer
There's a lot to see in here--for your child and you, both.
ABQLA Bulletin (Quebec Library Association)
This book allows children and adults alike to appreciate little day-to-day wonders, to find solace in a rushed world, and to discover the joys of music.
National Parenting Publications Award Gold Winner
This important picture book will remind each of us to enjoy and savor our surroundings.
Parade - Vi-An Nguyen
The Man With the Violin--a beautiful new children's book worth cherishing this season--is based on a true story.
Readerly, National Reading Campaign - Jen Bailey
Stinson's melodious descriptions and Petricic's colourful swirls seem to envelop the reader, captivating them just like the music captivates Dylan.
IndieFab Awards Finalist
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Dylan is a boy who notices things that his mother does not. One day in the metro station, amid people rushing here and there, he hears music that makes the hairs on the back of his neck tickle. A man is playing a violin, creating music that makes Dylan want to dance. He asks his mother if they can stop, but she says, "No." A sad sound comes from the violin as the escalator carries Dylan away. All day the music plays in Dylan's head. He asks his mother if the man will still be there on the way home, but his mother does not even remember him. That night on the radio Dylan hears the music of the man from the station. The DJ says that Joshua Bell, a famous musician, was playing in the metro but few people stopped to listen. This time Dylan gets his mother to listen with him, and dance. Petricic's slightly stylized, initial gray illustrations demonstrate the dull crowds, while bands of full color whirl around Dylan to try to show the sounds of music. In contrast, there are angular shapes in the tunnels, piercing sneezes, and vibrating coughs. Notes tell the true story of Bell's life and his concert in 2007 in a Washington D.C. metro station. Bell himself adds a postscript. Two of the songs he played can be downloaded. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—World-renowned violinist Joshua Bell began playing at the age of 4 and performed at Carnegie Hall at 17. On January 12, 2007, he accepted a challenge from a Washington, DC, newspaper reporter to play at a train station dressed like an ordinary street musician. Despite his expertise, he was largely ignored, except supposedly by children who wanted to stop and listen but were rushed along by impatient adults. In this fictionalized account, a young boy who is captivated by the music begs his mother to stop, but is literally yanked along. The music stays with the boy all day, and later, back home, when he hears the same music on the radio, he is able to get his mother not only to stop and listen but also to dance with him. The art reinforces the text nicely. The first spread reads, "Dylan was someone who noticed things. His mom was someone who didn't." The illustration features a man reading a newspaper upside down, a man whose suit jacket is misbuttoned, a cat chewing on a dog's bone, etc. Dylan sees it all, but Mom's line of vision is only blank white space. This is a fine reminder of the old adage to stop and smell the roses, and a good impetus for a discussion of using one's powers of observation.—Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2013-08-15
A Stradivarius on the subway? This Canadian import tells the story of violinist Joshua Bell's quirky experiment. An imposing woman in a fur coat and matching hat pulls a little boy down the street behind her. "Dylan was someone who noticed things. His mom was someone who didn't." The colors in the street scene behind them are muted grays, except for a thick stripe running across the page to the back of Dylan's head. Brightly colored objects against a white background fill it. Mom has a stripe as well, of blank white. In the crowded train station, Dylan hears music; its swirls of color wend through the scene. Dylan follows the sound to a man in a blue baseball cap, energetically playing the violin. Mom pulls him away, but the power of the music lingers in his mind. Later, at home, he's amazed to hear the violinist on the radio. An announcer explains that famed violinist Joshua Bell played in the subway today, yet "few people listened for even a minute." Dylan runs to show Mom how deeply the music has affected him. He soars around the room in curly colored waves, riding the music. Then they listen together, and they dance! Bell himself recalls the incident that inspired the book in a postscript. Imaginatively illustrated and beautifully written, this offbeat ode to the power of music is a winner. (author's note) (Picture book. 5-9)

Product Details

Annick Press, Limited
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.30(w) x 10.80(h) x 0.40(d)
AD560L (what's this?)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Kathy Stinson is the author of over 25 books for young people, including the beloved, bestselling Red Is Best. She lives near Guelph, Ontario.

Dušan Petricic is an editorial cartoonist as well as the award-winning illustrator of such children’s books as Mattland, Bone Button Borscht, and Mr. Zinger’s Hat. His latest book for Annick is Snap! He lives in Zemun, Serbia.

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The Man with the Violin 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
SherryE More than 1 year ago
Dylan, like most little boys, is a kid who notices things: mismatched boots, an upside down newspaper, a cat eating a bone, and a backwards number "5." His mom, like most grown-ups, notices very little. She rushes through life, going from place to place, trying to get through an endless list of things to do. When Dylan and his mom go into a crowded subway station, Dylan hears beautiful music. It's coming from a violinist. He wants to stop and listen, but of course Mom is too busy for that. She whisks him home, and only much later realizes what a wonderful thing she has missed. The Man with the Violin is based on the true story of an experiment that violinist, Joshua Bell, did in a Washington D.C. subway station. The story is told in a charming way with language a child would enjoy. Words like, "grr-rumble," and "ro-o-oar," and "patter, " and "clatter," bring sounds to life throughout the book. Probably the strongest aspect of the book is the illustrations. Illustrator, Dusan Petricic visually creates the sounds of music through swirling, colorful lines, and the noise of the station is depicted as sharp, angular, dark lines. Also, the objects Dylan observes, are cleverly illustrated in color while what the mother observes is drawn in dull, boring shades of gray. Children will enjoy picking out the humorous items, such as the mismatched boots, and seeing the splotches of color on things Dylan has noticed. While the story is written for children, the inherent lesson in the book is one that would most benefit the adults reading it. Namely, that one should not rush through life, but rather pause to enjoy it. The Man with the Violin is a book that would appeal to children ages 4-8. Fans of Joshua Bell would also enjoy this book, as there is a brief description of the actual experiment and a postscript written by Joshua Bell. As noted on the back cover, a portion of the proceeds from the book will be donated to a charity that promotes engagement with music among young people.
ForTheArtOfIt More than 1 year ago
I received an eARC copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.  I also borrowed the print version from my library.  Here is my honest review. A sweet story with a message for all of us to slow down a little and notice things. As with most picture books, it is the art that captures our eye; Petri¿i¿ has done a phenomenal job with this book. Despite being a 2D flat picture, one can sense movement and hear sound. It's incredible.  Worth noting: a notice on the back states: "A portion of the proceeds from this book will be donated to a charity that promotes engagement with music among young people."  As a mom, I think this is a book we should read often to remind us to pause with our children and discover the world around them. It is so new to them and we have a chance to see the world through new eyes again. As a teacher, this is a book that I would definitely want in my classroom library. It would make a wonderful book to build a writing/illustrating unit around. It is also a great example of a fiction work based on a true event (non-fiction).  This is a book that I will be adding to our bookshelf.
Andrea_C More than 1 year ago
The story of Joshua Bell's performance in the subway is one that repeatedly makes it way around Facebook and other social media sites. It is a true story, and one that serves to remind us to take a moment every once in a while, to really appreciate the world around us. Common cliches, such as "Stop and smell the roses" pop into my mind whenever I read about this story. It's something that we often forget to do as adults, as we feel the pressure to move from Point A to Point B, to hurry, hurry, HURRY!  Children don't operate that way. They are filled with wonder at the world around them, often pausing to take it all in. We used to be that way. And then we were trained to stop being so observant.  This story serves as a reminder to us to stop and listen to what children have to say when they notice something beautiful. It reminds us to appreciate the finer things in life, such as the beautiful music that Mr. Bell creates with his violin. Within all of the hustle and bustle of our modern lives lies so much beauty that we keep missing. Of course, this book primarily focuses on the music. This is emphasized in the illustrations. Dylan's world is black and white, except for himself and his mother. As the music envelops him, his world becomes brighter and filled with color, demonstrating how music is so enriching. In addition to the visual representation of the music are a lot of descriptive words about the clanging and noise that is stifling the music and adding to the chaos. This is a picture book that would be great for older children in musical education or biographical studies. For younger audiences, the story itself will probably go over their heads. I would read it to them, anyway, and play some of Joshua Bell's music while doing so. Or, treat them to a video of one of his performances on YouTube afterwards. You may be surprised at the impact such music will have on them. You may also find yourself being impacted more than you know. I received a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review.
Storywraps More than 1 year ago
This book is based upon a true story.  This book makes you stop and think about how you conduct your life and if you are missing out on the beauty and solace that is all around you because you are always busy and on the go.  Dylan, the  adorable main character of the book, was with his mom going to the subway when he heard the most beautiful, heavenly music that he had ever heard.  He looked around and his eyes locked with the common-looking man, wearing a baseball cap, who was producing that melodious music from his violin.  He so wanted to stay and listen but his mom was in a hurry, (as most adults are) and she tugged on him to keep moving or they would miss their train.  All day long that music swirled around in his head and made him lightheaded and very happy.  When they finally got home that night, and mom was preparing dinner, that same glorious music that he had heard earlier that day floated out from his radio and totally filled their apartment.  The radio announcer identified the man who had played so exquisitely in the subway as one of the best violinists in the world. Dylan could not believe his ears and he quickly got his mom's attention. He was so excited and said to her, "See we should have stopped to listen."  Realizing her faux pas she grabbed her little boy and together they were swept off their feet as they danced and appreciated the glorious music that was playing from that man's precious Stradivarious on the radio right into their hearts.  The artwork in this book is stunning.  The illustrator made perfect choices to depict the fluidity and flow of the music and contrasted it to the chaos and noise that usually surrounds us on a daily basis. I highly recommend it.
muaic-loverST More than 1 year ago
A wonderful story which shows the glorious beauty of music through the ears of a child. Will inspire us to be present to the wonders and talents around us. I would have liked it to be longer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Based on a true story, this is a beautifully told story of how we have become such a busy society and are missing the beauty around us. The text tells the story but the illustrations capture the essence of the message - stop and enjoy the music.