Itzhak: A Boy Who Loved the Violin by Tracy Newman, illustrated by Abigail Halpin

Itzhak: A Boy Who Loved the Violin

In 1945 Tel Aviv, the Perlman family lived in a modest apartment, but a little kitchen radio transformed the simple abode into a remarkable place. Music “filled this home and the ears and soul of the littlest Perlman, transforming baby Itzhak, too.”

Itzhak was no ordinary boy. When he listened to music, “a vivid rainbow of colors appeared in his mind—hues from dark green to red to yellow.” Music inspired him with great joy and, on the other hand, tears. By the time he was three, Itzhak realized he wanted more and more music in his life. In fact, he already knew his preferred instrument—the violin. Despite the family’s poverty, Itzhak’s parents bought him a toy violin, which only caused the budding musical genius distress.

A year later, many people in Israel were affected by polio. Itzhak was one of them. Though he survived, he was never able to walk again without the aid of braces. Itzhak couldn’t do many things, but, young as he was, he made a choice that changed his life. Instead of becoming angry and sad, Itzhak “knew the melody inside him gave him a different gift. Music got in his ears, gave him goosebumps, sent a chill through his body.”

This remarkably narrated and vividly illustrated children’s picture book biography of Itzhak Perlman, considered one of the world’s greatest violinists, shares more than highlights of his inspiring career. Equally as important is the story of how he repeatedly faced obstacles because of his disability and overcame them. In the author's notes, Tracy Newman relates that Itzhak is a spokesman for people with physical disabilities. In Israel and the United States, he advocates for accessible public buildings, including concert halls, airports, and hotels. Of his advocacy, Itzhak says, “It’s not a hobby that I happen to do when I’m not playing violin. It’s part of what my life is about.” (Abrams Books for Young Readers)

About the Author

Sonya VanderVeen Feddema is a freelance writer and a member of Covenant CRC in St. Catharines, Ontario.

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