A Violin for Elva by Mary Lyn Ray with Illustrations by Tricia Tusa is an endearing read. For me what was so important about this book was the message. In this story Elva is a young girl who happens upon a garden party and hears music, the music inspires her to ask her parents for a violin. They say no, they did not hear the music she heard.
Elva doesn’t give up, she manages to “practice” her violin when she should be studying math, brushing her teeth and even when she should be sleeping. As time goes on Elva grows up, she still loves music. She goes to her library and borrows records and feels inspired again in her mind she plays the violin, sometimes she plays the entire string section of the philharmonic, sometimes she plays solo.
…and silence filled the room. Elva had a dog for conversation. But conversation with her dog couldn’t cover up the quiet. She kept chocolates for refreshment. But chocolates couldn’t fill the empty feelings.
This book is about choices. I feel as though Mary Lyn Ray is not only giving our petites an important lesson, but also helping to inspire parents to seize the day, to realize it is not too late to do anything if we really set our minds to it. What an important lesson for our children and a fantastic reminder for us as parents. This book is about imagining what might have been, and realizing that we don’t have to imagine, we can make it happen.
This story is so honest and so heartfelt, eventually the day comes when Elva does indeed follow her heart and buys the violin. This is the part of the story where I want to applaud Mary Lyn Ray, it would have been easy to write that Elva was a master violin player, that she doesn’t struggle, but this book is about reality and sometimes reality is hard. Elva is not a natural. However, after all this time Elva does not give up.
It wasn’t easy: holding the bow correctly, landing on the right notes, figuring out flats and sharps. “I will improve,” she said.
And she did. With hard work, she never gave up and with all of her hard work she made music.
This book is so important, a skill that really needs to be taught by parents is to persevere in tasks even when they are hard. Even when they seem impossible, for Elva playing the violin did seem impossible, but she never gave up on her dream.