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Ada’s Violin : The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay

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about the book

Ada's violin

Cateura, Paraguay, is a town made of trash that more than twenty thousand people call home. Most of them pick through the tons of trash every day to make a living and feed their families. Officially, children aren’t allowed to work the landfill, but there’s no stopping them. Their families need all the help they can get.

This is Ada Ríos’ whole world.

Every morning the garbage trucks come and the gancheros (recyclers) scramble to find anything recyclable or sellable. Ada likes to imagine that each truck is a “box of surprises.”

Then Favio Chávez comes to Cateura. As he teaches the gancheros to safely work in the piles of garbage, he worries about the kids. Recruiting the recyclers to help, Favio makes cellos out of oil drums, flutes from water pipes, and guitars out of packing crates.

Who knew such treasures could be found in the trash?!

Ada joins the Recycled Orchestra, playing a violin made from an old paint can and a couple other odds and ends.

Will the orchestra survive the trials of life in Cateura?teachingbooks-book

about the author

Susan HoodThe oldest of three, Susan Hood was born in Brooklyn, New York, and when she was four, her family moved to Connecticut. It was a great place with a sledding hill, a playhouse, a garden, a field, and the woods.

There she spent much of her time in “her tree” and on “the secret rock”, a place that was accessible only by grabbing a tree branch and swinging up onto the rock outcropping that jutted out over a sheer drop! Susan was adventurous, even then, but adventure seeking runs in her family. Her grandfather was a lighthouse keeper who ran off to the Klondike Gold Rush. He came back from that adventure “a much wiser and poorer man.”

Susan had her own adventures sailing dinghies and distressing her jeans by tying them to a boat motor. We won’t talk about the adventure that led to the scar under her chin or those she had in her parents’ 1965 convertible Mustang! When she couldn’t participate in her own adventures, she turned to the ones in books. She was the youngest person in her town to have a library card!

Susan went to Smith College and took a job editing and writing for Scholastic, Sesame Workshop, and Nick Jr. Magazine. She wrote hundreds of board books, concept books, interactive books, nonfiction, and beginning readers. Now she is writing her own books.

Susan lives in a small town along the coast in Connecticut, and she and her husband still enjoy sailing. He built her a cedar strip kayak and they co-own a racing cruiser sailboat which they sail up and down the New England coast line.

She still has adventures, too. Returning from a trip to Bermuda, they lost power to their engine, lights, and navigational equipment. They had to find their way back using the stars!

Author website
Author interview: James Preller
Recycled Orchestra video spotlight: Keep America Beautiful
Recycled Orchestra video performance: American Film Institute

Also by Susan Hood:
Double Take! : A New Look at Opposites. Candlewick Press. June 2017.
The Fix-It Man. Harper Collins. 2015.
Mission : Back to School. Random House Books for Young Readers. 2016.
Leaps and Bounce. Disney-Hyperion. 2016.
Mission : New Baby. Random House Books for Young Readers. 2015.
Rooting for You! Hyperion Press. 2014.
The Tooth Mouse. Kids Can Press. 2012.
Just Say Boo! Harper Collins. 2012.
Spike, the Mixed-Up Monster. Paula Wiseman. 2012.
The Pup and Hound series. Kids Can Press. 2004-2007.teachingbooks-author

about the illustrator



Sally Wern Comport grew up around her father’s drawing board, which was planted squarely in the middle of the living room. When she was a teenager, she started working for her father’s advertising agency by illustrating furniture for Ethan Allen’s ads in the newspaper. How many sixteen-year-olds can say they’re a staff artist?!

Those furniture ads helped launch Sally’s career as an illustrator for magazines, books, and newspapers. But she didn’t stop there. In 2003, she launched Art at Large, an art consulting and production company specializing in custom large-scale visual solutions. Some of the company’s installations of artwork are 3 or 4 stories high on building exteriors!

“I never shy away from being afraid because there is a thing to be learned around every corner of the unknown. I believe it is part thrill seeking and part undying curiosity—and I am convinced that those two things will keep me alive in my craft.”

Sally lives in Annapolis, Maryland.


Illustrator website
Illustrator interview: Truly Amazing Women
Illustrator interview: Elizabeth O. Dulemba

Also by Sally Wern Comport:
Love Will See You Through : Martin Luther King Jr.’s Six Guiding Beliefs by Angela Farris Watkins. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. 2015.
Hanging Off Jefferson’s Nose : Growing Up on Mount Rushmore by Tina Nichols Coury. Dial. 2012.teachingbooks-illustrator

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On an island of music, only boys are allowed to play drums. This does not stop the drum dream girl from dreaming of “pounding tall conga drums / tapping small bongó drums / and boom boom booming / with long, loud sticks / on big, round, silvery / moon-bright timbales.” Will she ever be able to play her drums in public?






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Dylan and his mother were rushing somewhere—just like all the others at the subway station—when Dylan heard it. Music! “The high notes soar to the ceiling. The low notes swoop to the floor.” A man’s fingers dance across the strings of a violin. Long after leaving the station, Dylan can’t get the music out of his head. Who was that man with the violin?