Children’s Book Review: The Man with the Violin (Stinson/Petricic) & Happy Dreamer (Reynolds)

These book reviews are not affiliated with nor sponsored by any third party. I just felt like sharing 🙂

When was the last time you were reminded to “stop and smell the roses”, to “be present”, “become one with the moment”… or some variation of the same idea? We may react differently to these ideas, depending on our current circumstances, but ultimately; being reminded to slow down in our busy lives tends to stick with us. 


The following two books are precisely related to capturing the moment, except that they are categorized as children’s books. I think they serve as great reminders that children are natural-born masters at mindfulness, as long as we don’t interrupt them! I also think they should be categorized as ‘mandatory parenting books’ as they tend to capture the beauty, simplicity, and innocence of childhood. But I digress.   


The Man with the Violin. By Kathy Stinson. Illustrated by Dusan Petricic. Postscript by Joshua Bell. 

Suggested Age: 4+


We were gifted this book from our lovely Canadian cousin. It received the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award and has a priceless postscript by the amazing violinist Joshua Bell himself.  

It is based on the true story of when Joshua Bell took his priceless violin to L’Enfant Plaza Station in Washington, D.C., in 2007.  He dressed like an ordinary street musician and played his violin for over 43 minutes.  Based on his own postscript, over a thousand people heard him play, yet very few actually listened! And the ones that did were mostly children, trying to catch one last note as their parents dragged them away. 

In this beautifully yet whimsically illustrated book, the experience of one such child is portrayed.  When I finished reading this to my daughters, I was convinced that the lesson was more for me than for them!  The first line of the book is “Dylan was someone who noticed things. His mom was someone who didn’t. One Friday in January was a day like any other until … Music!”

My kids are the ones who often tug on my hand, while I hurry away from the street musician or artist. They are the ones who remind me not to step on the “little baby plants” (aka young weeds) that grow in the planters at parking lots! They are also the ones who insist that I read the message written on a homeless person’s cardboard box, while stopped at a red light! And then, one week later, bring up his name and suggest we take him some food and maybe a car. 

I used to be the one who would notice the chirping of the birds while walking to my car, or the gentle kiss of a breeze, while waiting for the bus.

Books like this are a gift, at least for me, to regain my inner balance, and to join in the magic that my children see and hear every second of their lives! 


Happy Dreamer. By Peter H. Reynolds

Suggested Age: 4+


Children are natural dreamers. Just think back to the last time you watched a young child deeply lost in their thoughts, maybe unconsciously smiling, or frowning, or talking to themselves – until something happens and they ‘wake up’ from their day-dream. 

I’ve often made the mistake of interrupting my children’s day-dream, because of some time-related activity. I’ve forced them out of the comfort of their imagination to get ready for a class, to go shopping, to take a bath, clean up, etc., not realizing the delicacy of their dreams. 

This book by Peter H. Reynolds is a lovely reminder for us grown-ups to just let our kids dream their dreams – without interruptions! 

Every time I read this book for my 5 year old, her eyes light up and I feel her connection. She enjoys all the different dreams, and the genuine joy of the character when given the freedom to just be and dream. The images and words also encourage open dialogue: acknowledging the importance of our thoughts (whether they be dreams or not); validating our right to dream; and finding joy in sharing some of our dreams with one another. 

A couple pages into it, I connected with it too! It read, “Sometimes the world tells me SIT STILL. BE QUIET. PAY ATTENTION. FOCUS. But my dreams have a mind of their own.”  I think those lines were written for me to read and repeat over and over in my head!

This book has helped me “chill out” a little and slow down a LOT! Especially with our homeschool journey, I now let the kids soak up every minute of free time that they have at home, in (almost) any way they like. Most of the time, they get deeply lost in their pretend-games, whether together or alone, and dream away. 


Leave a Reply