Friday, October 28, 2016

Music From the Trash Heap

Picture Book: Ada’s Violin:                                                             The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay
Author: Susan Hood
Illustrator: Sally Wern Comport
Summary: Ada lives in a town built on a trash heap. 
When trucks bring in garbage, the gancheros (recyclers) quickly tear through looking for treasure to sell or use. 
Ada is especially drawn to the sounds of violins coming from the radio that her family listens to regularly. When her grandmother learns of free music lessons, she takes her 2 granddaughters. 
They meet their new music teacher, Favio Chavez, but there are only 3 instruments and they are too valuable for the children to take back home for practice. 
Inspired by the gancheros and a band he heard that made their own instruments, Senor Chavez gathers materials from the dump to make his students instruments. 
He and others experiment with different materials until all students have instruments. 
Ada quickly chooses a violin made from a paint can, baking tray, fork, and wooden pieces. The new orchestra practices daily for 3 hours outside in the heat. 
Many children quit, but not Ada and her sister. Soon the children make glorious music together; The Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay is born! 
As her skills progress, Ada imagines a different life of making music and traveling to faraway places. 
With budding confidence, Ada performs solos. Soon she is chosen as First Violinist at age 12. Likewise, The Recycled Orchestra's public performances increase and they are soon traveling all over Paraguay and beyond. 
Delighted by the world they are experiencing, Ada and her friends perform for larger and larger crowds. They even tour internationally with a “world-famous rock band.” 
Although this is overwhelming, the cheering of the crowd gives Ada the courage she needs to step on the huge stage and play the music she was born to play, thanks to her town’s trash heap. 
Hanna’s Comments: This is such an inspirational story. The fact that it's true makes it even more powerful! You won’t have any difficulty encouraging your audience to find connections between this story, the scriptures listed below (or others you provide), and their own faith journeys. Emphasize concepts like vocation, courage, transformation, and worship. Talk about Ada's personal experiences as well as the success of the orchestra as a whole. The idea of coming together for good is biblical too. Have your audience reflect on how the mixed media illustrations continue the themes of the story. Be sure to read the Author’s Note where you’ll learn more, including how the money the orchestra makes benefits the children’s families and their community. You can check out photos and website/videos links too. This book is available in Spanish.
Original Publisher & Date: Simon Schuster, 2016
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 5 and up, K and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections: Be strong and courageous... for the Lord is with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9); make a joyful noise to the Lord (Psalm 100:1); with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26); one who is in Christ is a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17); make melodies to the Lord with your heart (Ephesians 5:19)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of children, youth, or adults who are learning about how God can use anything to bring about our transformation and the transformation of the world. 

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