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A Violin for Elva
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A Violin for Elva

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  152 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
A young girl longs to play the violin in this lyrical story that shows it’s never too late to pursue your dream.More than anything, Elva wants a violin—but her parents say no. So she pretends. When she should be brushing her teeth, Elva rehearses for recitals. When she should be learning subtraction or going to sleep, she imagines playing all the music in the world. The ye ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published January 27th 2015 by HMH Books for Young Readers
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Jan 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
A lovely sentiment, but it's one of those picture books that seems more suited to an adult audience than a children's one.
Feb 18, 2015 rated it liked it
A sweet story about fulfilling dreams and goals no matter how old you are.
Sandy Brehl
This is the rarest of rare picture books- one that features a child growing into adulthood yet retaining appeal and eliciting empathy from even the youngest child. Elva's yearning for music, and for learning/playing the violin in particular, are a metaphor for any unfulfilled personal passion. What might have been a maudlin or adult-centric "don't wait too late" life lesson is told with graceful prose, rhythmic repetitions, and a strong sense of seasons and time (think a kid-friendly version of ...more
Neilandtab Davis
Mar 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
never forget your dreams.
Mar 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Review originally posted on Children's Atheneum

Although I absolutely love the message that one is never too old to pursue a dream, as a violinist, I found this story incredibly sad. Parents, please please please, if your child wants to learn to play an instrument, try to find a way. My parents were just scraping by, but they found a way for me to rent a violin and take lessons at an affordable price. I begged them for two years to let me play and eventually they gave in. As an adult, I have had
Emmaline MacBeath
SUMMARY: As a little girl, Elva hears a violinist playing one day. From that day on she wants to play the violin. She asks her parents for one, but they say no. So she pretends. In her spare time she pretend rehearses for a concert. She grows up and forgets about the violin in her busyness. Occasionally she would listen to records of music and she would remember for a little while. She eventually thinks she is too old to learn to play. But one day, she takes a chance and buys a violin. She tries ...more
Feb 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
"'I will improve,' she said.

But she didn't."

An endearing story about pursuing dreams, conquering failure and coping with setbacks, and achieving goals through commitment and perseverance, A Violin for Elva takes on subject matter with some substance. The story is sweet, serious, honest, and inspiring. It also has great vocabulary [tremulous? Excellent.] and lovely, whimsical, graceful illustrations that complement the musicality of the story and enhance the lyrical quality of the prose.
I also l
May 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
This story is lovely. I bought my first violin when I was 38 -- long past the usual beginning age. I, too, was delighted when I produced that one perfect note -- mine was the low G. But, because I had musical training, I didn't have any trouble finding and playing other notes.

I get the message: it is never too late to follow your dreams, but I have to wonder why it is in a picture book marketed for children. My six-year-old son found this book sad because music wasn't encouraged in the child El
Jan 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a generational picture book. Elva want a violin. She heard someone playing and wants to make her own music. Her parent say no. Years pass, decades pass, and finally Elva gets her violin. However, she is not very good, and it gets put away. Until one day, when she takes lessons, and finds that she too can make her violin sing.

I was not expecting this book to flow over 50+ years. Elva only realizes her dream when she is an older woman with time on her hands. I think it is a great way to sh
Jennifer Gallman
Dec 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Each of us has our own ambitions when we are young, and the entire world seems to be in front of us. Some, like me, want to be teachers, some want to be doctors, some want to travel the world, and some, like Elva, want to play the violin. Once we have our dream determined, we look to our parents for approval. This is where Elva's dream ends, but only for a while.

Outside, Elva hears the beautiful sound of a violin, and she immediately knows she wants to learn to play. Unfortunately, her parents t
Clare Rossetter
Dec 06, 2015 rated it liked it
Elva seems to have parents that did not support her dreams, this is so sad. Elva has a real love for music and wants to play the violin but when her parents refuse to let her, she pretends she is, that is until she grows up and lets her dream die.
One day she sees a violin and buys it. Practicing alone she does not improve so she takes lessons and is finally able to play well enough to be in a recital and to create music. The illustrations are done in muted colors which give the pages a feeling
M Lee
Aug 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a story for both kid and adult. Even since she was young, Elva wanted to play violin but didn't have the opportunity until she was old when she finally got herself a violin. Learning to play was difficult, but in order to pursue her dream, she enrolled in a violin class. She finally felt that she was making music at her first recital. The illustrations are beautiful and the story is inspiring.
May 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Elva has a life long dream of playing the violin that she has long abandoned but has never completely forgotten. An evocative picture book about dreams found, lost, and found again. This story will probably resonate more for adults than young readers, but Elva is a compelling character who is still young at heart.
Feb 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Perhaps because of my own love of music and the way it's transformed my life, this book brought unexpected tears to my eyes. It's never too late to learn something new. what a beautiful book. And what a couple of assholes Elva's parents were.
This book is also a great example of how a book that is not only about a child can be a children's book.
Jun 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-books
I love this book as much as my 2yr old! Perfect story to remind all ages that what makes you tick, what makes you most exited, will never ever go away. And that you can pursue that passion whenever, however. The illustrations are by one of my favorite illustrators, whom I discovered when me and my daughter read "In a blue room" (another fave).
Mar 03, 2015 added it
Shelves: j-picture-books
A sweet story about how it's never too late to pursue your dreams, and how you don't need to achieve virtuoso status in order for your dreams to be realized. I loved the illustration style -- soft colors outlined in crisp ink lines. Might be a harder sell for young children; seems like the message would appeal the most to older folks who feel like their dreams have passed them by already.
Aug 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: music, picture-books
Love the "it's never too late" aspect of this story. Elva hears a violin play at a young age, and wants to play, but her parents didn't hear it, and don't understand the importance of music to Elva. So she doesn't play, only pretends, until she is grown. She still longs to learn to play . . . and eventually does.
Trisha Daniel
Feb 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I loved how passionate Elva was about the violin. It did not matter how long it took for her to get her violin she eventually got her dream. She might not have been good at playing it at first but then her lessons paid off and she could play to her hearts content. All of the songs she had dreams about all of those years she was finally able to bring to life!
Feb 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a story meant for those with a little life experience, so I probably wouldn't recommend this to children. I do hope, however, it finds its way into the hands of lots and lots of grown-ups because it is quite special.
Apr 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
As a little girl, Elva heard music and asked for a violin,but her parents said no. So Elva pretended to have one and never truly followed that dream until very much late in life. Elva's story teaches us that it is never to late to feed that yearning, that doubts and life keeps your from pursuing.
Patricia McLaughlin
May 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: childrens
Inscrutable beginning, unsuitable trajectory for a kid's story, which should have continued to focus on the child's creative responses to her parents' refusal; Elva can grow up and rekindle her childhood dream in another story for adults.
Feb 03, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: childrens-2015
Beautiful artwork, but the story (probably autobiographical) is of an old woman harboring a regret all her life but then one day wakes up and tries to set it right. It didn't feel like it was for children as much as it was for adults.
Nov 10, 2015 rated it did not like it
I liked the illustrations. However, I couldn't help but be sad that her parents never helped her with her musical dreams. I would have liked it more if she had continued to imagine out different ways to make music.
Feb 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books, music
Elva spends her whole life dreaming of playing the violin, until she finally decides to make her dream come true.
Apr 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Such a sweet story with beautiful artwork. Perfect for expressing the power music can have on our lives. I love it!
Aug 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kids, picture_book
Love the "it's never too late" aspect of this story. - Robin, Youth Services

Reserve a library copy.
Jan 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A lovely story for children and adults, reminding us to do what makes us happy. Elva taught us that it is never too late to chase our dreams or to learn something new.
May 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A FANTASTIC reminder that you are never too old to pursue that dream!
Jun 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Bookaday #16. Lovely testament to not letting go of your dreams, even if they are postponed and almost forgotten. Of course a dog in your life always is a plus!
Feb 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful! The story is fabulous, the artwork incredible - I love the soft, inspirational message that flows like music through this book!
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Mary Lyn Ray is a conservationist and author of several picture books for children. She was born in Louisiana in 1946 and grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas. Ray has lived in New England since 1964, when she first came east to attend college. She currently lives in a 150-year-old farmhouse in South Danbury, New Hampshire, which she restored herself.
More about Mary Lyn Ray