Hood presents the story of a Paraguayan youth orchestra whose instruments are fashioned from garbage collected in the local landfill.
Cateura is, literally, “a town made of trash.” The dump for the capital city of Asunción, Cateura receives 1,500 tons of trash daily, and 2,500 families subsist there, with generations of gancheros scouring for recyclable materials like cardboard and plastic. Favio Chávez, an environmental engineer assigned to Cateura to teach the recyclers safety methods, began offering music lessons to children, to help keep them safe. He enlisted a carpenter’s expertise in creating instruments from salvaged materials. “They transformed oil drums into cellos, water pipes into flutes, and packing crates into guitars!” Hood’s narrative focuses on talented Ada Ríos, whose years of dedicated practice on a metal-and-wood violin parallel the orchestra’s ascendant fame in Paraguay and internationally. “Ada and her friends flew on their first airplane, stayed in their first hotel…and saw sights they never imagined.” Comport’s complex, digitally enhanced collages combine acrylics, drawing, and layered typographic elements, conveying both the oppressive omnipresence of garbage and the functional beauty of the handcrafted instruments. For a spread celebrating the music’s transforming effects, Comport renders musicians and gancheros in silhouette against the landfill, bathed in sunset pinks and golds.
Pair with the suggested video links to experience the music of a remarkable, resilient cultural community. (author’s note, websites, videos, quotation sources, photographs) (Informational picture book. 4-8)