Lloyd Moss's Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin
illustrated by Marjorie Priceman
Children's book review by Steve Barancik
Meet the classical instruments of chamber music
When he wrote this book in the mid 1990s, author Lloyd Moss was a big name in classical music radio in New York, and the host of two syndicated programs as well.
With this effort, he attempts to share with children the sounds he loves. In rhyming couplets, he introduces each instrument in a 10 piece chamber group.
With mournful moan and silken tone,
Itself alone comes ONE TROMBONE.
Gliding, sliding, high notes go low;
ONE TROMBONE is playing SOLO.
I am almost always pleasantly surprised by the quality of the writing in Caldecott books. The Caldecott is, after all, awarded to illustrators, and artist Marjorie Priceman certainly did earn her 1996 Caldecott honor here for her gorgeous paintings of elongated players, full of movement.
This author, unfortunately, was not up to the challenge of writing a quality picture book, and someone should have said something, or at least provided more editing guidance. But apparently his high profile guaranteed enough sales that everyone kept quiet.
The stanza above contains two separate affronts against meter and rhyme, and one would have hoped that the author's expert ear would have heard them. (Note the awful, hitching rhythm of the third line, and the mis-rhyming of "go low" and "solo," which have conflicting accents.)
Some verses are better - significantly better - and some worse. The better ones can contain internal rhyme and alliteration that gives them a fun, tongue-twisting quality for the reader.
In short, I recommend Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin situationally. If a child is being introduced to serious music, I think you'll find the book's flaws easily ignored. If, however, you're just looking for a good picture book, you can easily find better.
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