Ada's Violin

Title: Ada's Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay
Author: Susan Hood  
Illustrator: Sally Wern Comport 
Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 3rd, 2016 
Genre/Format: Non-Fiction/Picture Book 
GoodReads Summary: 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 Ríos 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 Chávez 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.

What I Think: I fell in love with Ada's Violin right away and for so many reasons. I absolutely love narrative nonfiction picture books. We get to read a beautifully told story that is actually true. This book called to me because when I was in 4th grade, I signed up to play the violin in the school orchestra. Seeing a book about a violin player was very exciting. Reading about the town of Cateura in Paraguy reminded me of my friend Jennifer and her cartonera project inspired from Cartoneras in Argentina. You can read more about it here and here and watch the video below.
When I think about my own kids, I think about how lucky they are to have their basic needs met and how much they have in their lives. We still have fun being creative and have done our own version of Cain's Arcade and the cardboard challenge before. (You can watch more about this below.) We paint rocks and they turn every box that comes into our house into something. But it's so easy to not make time for things like this. Reading Ada's Violin was a good reminder to pause and be thankful for everything we have available to us and to make time for creativity and especially being creative with how we use and reuse materials in our house. 

As a mentor text, I pulled the very first line from this beautiful picture book because it stood out to me. First of all, there's some alliteration there for writers to notice. But beyond that, it's a first line that orients the reader with just a few words. There isn't much description and we don't have a lot of details but it's still easy to start to visualize the town Ada might live in. I love this is a mentor text because it's short and simple and students could try and write their own version of this opening line for their own stories, whether they are writing nonfiction, personal narrative, or any other kind of narrative. 
Snatch of Text: "Ada Rios grew up in a town made of trash."

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