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Violet's Music



Last updated Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Author: Angela Johnson
Illustrator: Laura Huliska-Beith
Date of Publication: 2004
ISBN: 0803727402
Grade Level: 2nd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Mar. 2007

Synopsis: From School Library Journal: This is a jazzy story about an African-American girl who loves music. From the time she was a baby banging out rhythms with her rattle or a two-year-old making a horn to toot on or a kindergartner looking for other kids with the same passion, Violet played and sang, and hummed and thought about music all the time. Then "one day a few summers later," she finds Angel, Randy, and Juan, all of whom are kindred spirits, to jam with. And the best part is that every one of them knew that they would find one another. With an upbeat text that uses lots of sound words, this tale celebrates music as much as it applauds being true to what you love. Violet seems perfectly happy to keep on making music and looking for fellow musicians. She never gives up in either pursuit, and in the end is rewarded for her perseverance. Done in acrylics and collage, the lively illustrations seem to move on the page. Violet and her friends have round, smiling faces; elongated arms and legs; and play instruments that have a life and movement all their own.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Look at the cover of the book. What can you tell about Violet?
•  What kinds of things does she like to do?
•  What kind of instrument does she like to play?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  If Violet hears music everywhere, where do you hear music in your life? (the store, the elevator, on the street corner….) What kinds of things sound like music even though they aren’t actual instruments?
•  Violet can’t find anyone who will play music with her. Do you ever feel like no one wants to play with you? How does it make you feel?
•  Violet’s favorite thing to do is to play and listen to music. What is your favorite thing to do? Do you like to do it by yourself or with other people?

Craft ideas:
•  Bring ahead option: Make a tambourine using two paper plates, a stapler, and beans. Put two paper plates together, one face up and one face down so that it creates a hollow center. Staple all the way around to seal the plates, leaving a hole at the top to insert beans. Put a few beans inside the plates (a small handful—if it is too full, it will be hard to make a good sound). Staple the hole at the top. Now you have a tambourine!
•  Make a horn out of construction paper and decorate it with scraps of paper, crayons, pens, etc.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!