Valentine and His Violin by Philip Hopman

ValentineandHisViolinValentine and His Violin by Philip Hopman.  Ages 2 – 100+.  Lemniscaat USA.  September 2012.  32 pages.  ISBN:  978-1935954170.  $17.95.  Fiction (but says on his website that it is a true story/fact).

Quick Summary:  Valentine plays the violin very badly.  He doesn’t realize this.  In fact, he thinks he plays rather well.  For the Queen’s birthday he plays Ode to Joy.  Three people shout at him, “Horrible!” “Hideous!” and “Get outta here!” after the concert.  The depth of his horrible playing doesn’t quite sink in and Valentine then goes out in the world offering his music to others.  With his violin, he inspires a feeble horse to jump up, a constipated wolf to poop, a dragon to flee, and an attacking army to retreat.  His horrible violin playing has actually turned into an asset and saves lives.  The story closes with Valentine poised to give a concert for the King and Queen of the castle he has just saved.  All the members of the audience have plugged their ears — ready for the concert to begin.

Our Experience Reading this Book:  I will never forget this book.  I don’t often laugh so hard while reading a book that I have to stop reading.  I laughed really hard while reading this book to my son and so did my husband.  There were a few times while reading this book that I thought, “Oh, Geez!  What is this book?”  Except, I loved it.  We highly recommend this book — but it may not be for everyone.  A good sense of humor is certainly required when reading this book.

Despite the topic, the tone of the story is very good-hearted and friendly.  All of the characters are really nice with the exception when three people tell Valentine that his playing is horrible and that is extremely brief.  Everyone else in the story is very kind and grateful for Valentine’s helpful violin playing.  It’s very refreshing.  Valentine doesn’t mean to play badly and he’s not arrogant or rude about his ability.  He just thinks he plays the violin well when he doesn’t — at least not in the traditional sense of the word.

“Gosh, thinks Valentine, the poor creature!  Maybe he’d like a little music…”

“‘Thanks for playing your violin,’ says the farmer.  ‘I thought it was very … er… different.'”

It’s also fun to note that many famous pieces are mentioned in this book:  Ode to Joy, Allegretto, Water Music, Waltz of the Flowers, and Marche Militaire.  Listen to these pieces and then read the book again.  It’ll add a new level of appreciation for these pieces.

The illustrations are absolutely beautiful.  It’s done in watercolor and ink.  The landscapes and medieval setting make it a joy.  The illustrations are contradicting in that they are so detailed and yet when you look closer you see simple scribbles.  He makes the artwork look effortless — but you know many hours and a lot of hard work went into it.   There’s a scene with a wolf pooping and the poop is actually leaving the wolf’s butt — and it is beautiful!  It’s also absolutely hilarious and wrong, but in the context of the story — it just works.  That’s called magic when something works even though it doesn’t seem like it should.  So yes, this book is magical.  Pooping wolf and all.

I hope you get a chance to check this book out and I hope you have a wonderful sense of humor when you read it.  If you’re looking for a book to inspire a child to play the violin, try one of our favorites, Mole Music by David McPhail.  If you’re looking for a wonderfully fun book that is completely different and certainly memorable — please do check out Valentine and His Violin.

Also, I highly recommend getting this book, giving it to an unsuspecting adult and having them read it to your child.  I think everyone will get a good laugh and have a good time.

Where Obtained:  Library.  Random pick.

FTC Disclosures:  Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” If you click on the link and purchase the book, I will receive an affiliate commission.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Author/Illustrator Website:

Some of my Favorite Reviews of this Book:


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  1. This sounds like a fun book! I love it when random picks at the library are so interesting. Thanks again for visiting Play Trains!, and I’m glad I found your blog, too! My son and I love reading together, and I’m trying to switch from writing adult novels to picture books myself, so I love reading about books that other people love.


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