adas-violin-9781481430951_lgThis extraordinary true story takes kids across the world to the rubble and trash of one of the largest garbage dumps in the capital city of Paraguay. Ada and sister Noelia grew up in this town “made of trash,” watching the recyclers claw through the mounds of garbage with long-handled hooks, in search of anything they could recycle or sell. What looked like a bleak future rummaging through trash, became a surprising opportunity filled with hope as their grandmother signed them up for music lessons. Their teacher and a recycler/carpenter knew that orchestra instruments were too costly as well as valuable to be kept by the children in this slum, so they made them from trash. “They transformed oil drums into cellos, water pipes into flutes, and packing crates into guitars.” As skills and confidence grew, the orchestra was invited to perform around the world.

As a speech language pathologist I love to find gems like this book that generate so much learning and conversation with kids. The beautiful mixed-media collages brought the book to life with every torn bit of paper emphasizing the enormity and variety in the dump, while Susan Hood’s text is a rich language lesson on many fronts. I had fun with my 5-9 year-old kids pointing out and looking for strong vocabulary loaded into descriptive sentences-“The noisy, stinky, sweltering slum was not the most nurturing neighborhood.” We talked about:

  • The power in creativity and  problem solving.
  • The influence of a grandmother and the contrast in opportunities and desires between generations.
  • What the students learned beyond music–dedication, discipline, need for a birth certificate.
  • What is the same and different about kids your age playing and learning an instrument.
  • How to make a difference in the world.

Ada’s Violin is an excellent addition to the family, classroom or school library and therapists’ bag and is enriched when paired with viewing the 60 Minutes segment, “The Recyclers: From Trash Comes Triumph.”

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