The early life of renowned violinist Joshua Bell is portrayed in a lively fashion.
It’s apparent that the violin is the perfect instrument for the small white boy, as his first tentative attempts at familiar tunes turn into a joyful immersion in the music. Colorful mixed-media illustrations dance and swirl across the pages as Joshua envisions stories emanating from the music he plays. At the age of 12, Joshua enters a tough competition for a chance to perform with an orchestra, choosing one of the most difficult pieces for a violinist to master. Apprehension turns into personal triumph as he soldiers on after a major mistake in his performance. Petricic’s light touch, fluid lines, and watercolors are reminiscent of Quentin Blake’s work, and they bring to life the exuberance with which Joshua approaches his art. Expansive double-page spreads, plenty of white space, and unusual perspectives give just the right amount of room for Stinson’s descriptive text, which captures a range of emotions, from music that “tickled every hair on Joshua’s head” to notes that “hung limp in the air like wet laundry on a clothesline.” The final page of the book provides the basis for the story in question-and-answer format.
A joyful reminder that perseverance pays off, especially when you let out the artist within. (Picture book/biography. 5-8)