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“The greatest gift is a passion for reading.”
Summary: When Molly's family needs water, she volunteers to go to the village square to get some. Except that this is a time of war, and she is mistaken for a spy. But fate steps in and she returns home. Many years later, as she is about to play her violin at a great performance hall, she is trying to muster all of her courage again. Can she do it? This is a story that shows that bravery, courage, and friendship show themselves in different ways.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, playtime reading, read aloud book, remedial reader
Recommended Age: read together: 7 to 10; read yourself: 9 to 12
Interest Level: 8 to 10
Age of Child: Started reading with child nearly 6 years old.
Young Reader Reaction: The closing scene (with Molly on stage and the Prince in his box) was our child's favorite part. Most of the story was lost on her.
Adult Reader Reaction: This is a beautiful story that is exceptionally illustrated. Still, many of the elements are far too subtle for 7 year olds, beginning with the double entendre of the title. The vague descriptions of the setting and "the enemies" make it difficult to give the story foundation. Children today will also have little concept that it was "wrong" for girls to play a violin.
Pros: This is a beautifully illustrated picture book that offers life lessons. It is particularly valuable for remedial readers who need sophisticated, substantive stories with vocabulary and presentation suited to their needs.
Cons: It would have been worth adding a couple more pages to flesh out the concepts of enemy, friendship, perseverance, and prejudice for young readers.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. Despite being a "picture book" this is a worthwhile read for pre-teens.
Educational Themes: This is a picture book with sophisticated lessons. There are opportunities to talk about enemy v. friendship, war (specifically the passions or suspicions that can cloud judgment), perseverance, prejudice, courage and self esteem. As an historical piece, it sets the stage for further research about women in music and the violin itself.