Valentine's violin teacher says he's doing very well, but the effect of his playing on others is dramatic in a different sense.
Dutch illustrator Hopman, known for his collaborations (Tom the Tamer, written by Tjibbe Veldkamp, 2011), proves he can solo as well in this entertaining riff on the sounds of a beginning violinist, published here in lively, colloquial translation. In the text, the small boy tries out various well-known pieces such as Ode to Joy, Water Music and Marche Militaire. The pictures show the result: People scatter; horses leap; a constipated wolf produces an enormous poop; a dragon flees; an army retreats. Hopman’s engaging paintings are set with a narrow white border on double-page spreads. Loose-lined pen-and-ink drawings with pastel watercolor wash include intriguing details. There’s a high-ceilinged music studio full of art, a walled city with canals reminiscent of Venice and a castle besieged by an army that uses both elephants and Viking boats. This medieval fairy-tale world adds to the absurdity of the story, which seems to end well, as Valentine’s talent wins him the opportunity to perform in court. Or perhaps it doesn’t. The final endpapers show birds flying away from his concert for the king and queen.
Delightful whether or not you’ve ever attempted to play a stringed instrument. (Picture book. 5-9)