Itzhak: A Boy Who Loved the Violin

by Tracy Newman (Author) Abigail Halpin (Illustrator)

Itzhak: A Boy Who Loved the Violin
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

This picture-book biography of violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman will inspire young readers to follow the melody within themselves

Before becoming one of the greatest violinists of all time, Itzhak Perlman was simply a boy who loved music. Raised by a poor immigrant family in a tiny Tel Aviv apartment, baby Itzhak was transformed by the sounds from his family's kitchen radio--graceful classical symphonies, lively klezmer tunes, and soulful cantorial chants. The rich melodies and vibrant rhythms spoke to him like magic, filling his mind with vivid rainbows of color.

After begging his parents for an instrument, Itzhak threw his heart and soul into playing the violin. Despite enormous obstacles--including a near-fatal bout of polio that left him crippled for life--Itzhak persevered, honing his extraordinary gift. When he performed on the Ed Sullivan Show sat only 13, audiences around the world were mesmerized by the warmth, joy, and passion in every note.

Gorgeously illustrated with extensive back matter, this picture-book biography recounts Itzhak's childhood journey--from a boy with a dream to an internationally acclaimed violin virtuoso.

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Publishers Weekly

"The Perlmans' tiny apartment seemed ordinary.... Yet a little kitchen radio transformed this simple home." More significantly, this particular radio transformed the world by inspiring young Itzhak Perlman, renowned violinist and beloved public figure. Newman conducts readers through Perlman's childhood in Tel Aviv, revealing his resilience in the face of obstacles, including, at age four, a bout of polio that left him reliant on crutches or braces. "Running around the block, riding a bicycle, jumping off a diving board--all these ordinary things Itzhak would never be able to do. But Itzhak... knew the melody inside him gave him a different gift." After growing serious about the violin, the boy performs at age six and solos by age 10. Newman's appealing story culminates with the teenage Perlman's life-changing 1958 performance on the Ed Sullivan Show. Halpin's colorful illustrations of a young Perlman, ribboned by swirling staves of musical scores, reflect his vivid inner world and warm-hearted life. Includes a timeline, notes, and bibliography. Ages 4-8. (May)

Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

K-Gr 4—This appealing picture book biography concentrates on the childhood of violinist Itzhak Perlman. Born to Polish Jewish parents living in Palestine in 1945, Perlman first heard music from a radio in his family's small apartment. He began studying the violin at age five and became a worldwide sensation after appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1958. Dismissed by some people as a novelty act, Perlman accepted a scholarship to Juilliard to continue his training, ultimately resulting in an illustrious performing and teaching career, winning 16 Grammys and four Emmys. Detailed back matter includes author and illustrator notes, a time line, and an extensive bibliography, and fills in details about the virtuoso's life. Watercolor and colored pencil illustrations, finished digitally, show bars of music swirling around Perlman to demonstrate how completely sound is woven into his existence. VERDICT Newman's text paired with Halpin's effective illustrations and design offers an intriguing glimpse into the life of this musician and advocate.—Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA

Copyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"This is a perfect introduction to this violin virtuoso." — "Booklist"
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Abrams Books for Young Readers
Publication date
May 20, 2020
BISAC categories
JNF007040 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography & Autobiography | Music
JNF036000 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Music | General
JNF038080 - Juvenile Nonfiction | People & Places | Middle East
Library of Congress categories
Perlman, Itzhak
Schneider Family Book Award
Honor Book

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