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Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay

Book Synopsis

From award-winning author Susan Hood and illustrator Sally Wern Comport comes the extraordinary true tale of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay, an orchestra made up of children playing instruments built from recycled trash.

Ada Rios grew up in Cateura, a small town in Paraguay built on a landfill. She dreamed of playing the violin, but with little money for anything but the bare essentials, it was never an option…until a music teacher named Favio Chavez arrived. He wanted to give the children of Cateura something special, so he made them instruments out of materials found in the trash. It was a crazy idea, but one that would leave Ada-and her town-forever changed. Now, the Recycled Orchestra plays venues around the world, spreading their message of hope and innovation.

Our Review Panel says...

Every now and then you find a picture book that is so much more than just a book with pictures. This is one of those books, telling the true story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay through words and quite breathtaking illustrations. This book is complex enough for older children and deals with extreme poverty as well as the joy of music while the pictures, showing both light and shade, stay in the mind long after reading. The faces of the children linger; the contrasts of colour making everything vivid and snatching you into the book, giving the reader the tiniest glimpse of what life is like in one of the poorest slums on Earth. The problem is solved with the use of rubbish, turning something that is clearly blighting their lives into something of huge benefit. The reader is left with a sense of the enormous ingenuity that must have gone on to recreate the instruments the children needed to play. The very end of the book takes you into reality as the author explains the true story and there is even a photo of the children with their instruments.

This is a remarkable book because it has the scope to be used as the basis for so much different work in schools. The story alone is unusual, the illustrations show notable use of colour and shade. The topic of the book could be used in music or Geography, or recycling topics. I’d never heard of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay before, but this book has made me glad to learn that such a wonderful organisation exists.

This book is available on these booklists:

Ada’s Violin: Teacher Notes

A teaching pack provided by the publisher to accompany the book Ada’s Violin.

Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay

adas violin the story of the recycled orchestra of paraguay

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