Nathaniel's Violin


32 pages
ISBN 1-55143-064-9
DDC jC813'.54




Illustrations by Marlene Watson
Reviewed by Steve Pitt

Steve Pitt is a Toronto-based freelance writer and an award-winning journalist. He has written many young adult and children's books, including Day of the Flying Fox: The True Story of World War II Pilot Charley Fox.


Young Nathaniel lives on the kind of farm that country-and-western
singers write “real hurtin’” songs about. The cows won’t milk,
the chickens won’t lay, and the only relief Nathaniel and his family
get from drought is when clouds of locusts darken the sky. One day, a
mysterious old woman stops by and gives Nathaniel a violin. At first it
seems like a very ordinary violin, especially when Nathaniel tries to
play it. The noise is so bad that Nathaniel’s father sends him out to
the barn to practise. But gradually Nathaniel learns to play; as his
music improves, everything on the farm seems to get better. The hard
times never completely go away, but the violin’s music eventually
links three generations of Nathaniel’s family.

This charming little story has no real moral to it other than that
music is good for the soul. The text is at once succinct and eloquent.
The illustrations, rendered in a rustic, primitive style, contain a
wealth of humorous detail that tends to sneak up on the reader only
after the third or fourth reading. Highly recommended.


Lohans, Alison., “Nathaniel's Violin,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 18, 2024,