From School Library Journal
Grade 4-8-A superb story of a boy's coming-of-age in the bayous of South Louisiana in the early days of World War I. In a first-person narrative, F lix Octave LeBlanc tells about the first time he heard his long-absent uncle, 'Nonc Adolphe, play the fiddle at a get-together. "The music latched onto something inside of me, as if each note was plucking a string that I hadn't even known was there." From that moment on, all F lix wants to do is play the fiddle, against his parents' wishes. He fashions a violin from an old cigar box, wood, and wire, and secretly teaches himself to play. During the Mardi Gras festivities, he hides behind a costume and mask and joins the Cajun band circling his neighborhood. Unfortunately, made bold by whiskey and pride in his accomplishments, he is unmasked and faces the unpleasant consequences of his actions when he falls from the wagon. Questions of responsibility, obedience, loyalty, self-discovery, friendship, and maturity are all seamlessly woven into the story, underpinned by a sense of the Cajuns' steadfast reverence for church and family. The whole becomes an excellent novel of a boy's growing up, offering a comprehensive historical picture of Cajun life and values, and, most of all, a compelling depiction of the power of music in people's lives. A book not to be missed.Judith Constantinides, formerly at East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, LA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 4-7. Once Felix hears his uncle play the fiddle, he knows that music runs in his blood, too. The problem is, Felix's mother, Maman, does not look kindly on fiddle playing. To her it represents irresponsibility, the sort her brother displayed when he abandoned his prosperous farm to travel and play music, while her own family had to struggle to make a living off their land. Felix is so determined to play, however, that he painstakingly constructs his own violin out of a wooden cigar box, teaches himself to play, and then makes his debut in disguise at the local Mardi Gras festivities. His secret comes out when he tumbles out of the wagon on which he's playing and breaks his collarbone. Maman's wrath pushes him to run away from home. He has second thoughts, however, while sheltering from a storm and returns to his family to find that Maman has reconsidered her objections. Although the story is predictable, it moves easily, and the 1914 Cajun background provides some added interest. Felix's story is based on an anecdote told to Doucet by Creole musician Canray Fontenot, who also built his own first fiddle. Denise WilmsCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved