Newman recounts the childhood of renowned Israeli American violinist and polio survivor Itzhak Perlman.
In his family’s tiny Tel Aviv apartment, the “graceful classical symphonies” and “lively klezmer folk tunes” pouring from the radio enchanted Itzhak; at 3, he begged for a violin. But at 4, polio left him paralyzed. Though “other four-year-olds might have given up,” a “steady melody played inside Itzhak,” spurring him to relearn everyday tasks. But his legs remained paralyzed, requiring him to walk with forearm crutches and play his violin seated. Undaunted, he made the “extraordinary choice” of being neither sad nor angry; barriers, such as stairs, were “ordinary things Itzhak just had to get used to.” After joining Israeli orchestras at 6 and playing solos at 10, he performed on The Ed Sullivan Show in New York at 13 despite knowing little English. The upbeat text, interspersed with quotes from the adult Perlman, amplifies his resilience and passion. But Halpin’s vibrant illustrations take center stage. Bars of Bach and Mendelssohn adorn the pages, bursts of red, yellow, blue, and green reflecting the musical “rainbow” in Itzhak’s mind; tender facial expressions convey Itzhak’s passion and his family’s love. An author’s note mentions Perlman’s advocacy for people with disabilities (jarringly and anachronistically referred to as “the handicapped” and “wheelchair-bound”); a timeline charts Perlman’s extensive career. Most characters, including Itzhak, present white.
An eye-catching tale of music and perseverance.(illustrator’s note, notes, links, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-10)