Mr Horton's Violin by Wenhua Wang, Amann Wang and Yu Yan Chen (translator)
|Mr Horton's Violin by Wenhua Wang, Amann Wang and Yu Yan Chen (translator)|
|Category: Emerging Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: One of a pair of quite charming music-based, folkloric stories from this source that we can recommend.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 70||Date: December 2015|
|Publisher: Balestier Press|
Meet Mr Horton. He is one of the world's most famous and rich musical instrument players, and has done it all – except, that is, stumble on a music tree. You have to stumble on them, for not carpenters, not sculptors, not even simple woodsmen would give them a second look and think of them as anything special. But when Mr Horton does find one he is able to fashion the best, most magical violin imaginable out of its wood. The only problem after that is working out who deserves to play it…
This is very much a pleasant story for the reader with someone over their shoulder to point a few things and words out to them, but the simple, folklore structure will be evident to even the youngest chancing this way. It might take a little longer than you would think to get the instrument ready, and again there might be a few too many words devoted to dismissing the usual suspects that come a-knocking at Mr Horton's door. But the script is still suitably apportioned to the bright spreads, and nowhere does it look too dense for the young reader, and the vocabulary is at a well-judged level.
I do have a problem with the artwork featured here, however. Some images certainly took too long for me to work out what they were showing. Witness Mr Horton answering a door to a crowd of people supporting a visitor – his head is held out at such an unrealistic angle, and people four rows of crowd back use opera glasses to look on, due to the unusual perspectives. Yes, the brightness and simple way the colour is added to plain white fields make the pages look lively, but it's not to my taste.
Apart from that, the book has many similarities to its sister publication, and those include printing problems. In my copy here the same final couple of paragraphs appeared on two pages running, and left me with the feeling something was missing. I don't like to mention gremlins, however, when a lot of quality is on the page once more. The book doesn't really gear towards one final moral this time, but passes through the usual folklore pattern of dismissing three wrong ideas before alighting on the right one. It's a well-used format, and has sustained itself for centuries, and this variation on it – translated from Chinese but universally acceptable – will have the power to keep it alive for much, much longer.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
The same house also gave us The Only Pupil in the School by Hsukung Liu and Xinlin Wang (translator).
You can read more book reviews or buy Mr Horton's Violin by Wenhua Wang, Amann Wang and Yu Yan Chen (translator) at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Mr Horton's Violin by Wenhua Wang, Amann Wang and Yu Yan Chen (translator) at Amazon.com.
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