Perfect Picture Book Friday: Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin

Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin by Lloyd Moss, Marjorie Priceman

Music has been a part of my life since I was born. My father had a wonderful tenor voice, and when he wasn’t bursting into song around the house, he was singing with his barbershop chorus, sparkly blue tux and all. My older brother played trombone and guitar; I played the clarinet and a (very) little bit of alto sax and oboe; my younger brother plays guitar. Then I sang in the chorus all through school, then a couple years with the Oratorio Society of New York, then in musicals, and now with the choral group in my town in Italy. Reading music has always been as natural as reading words.

Carnegie Hall
Carnegie Hall, NYC

Besides the musicals, which of course I ADORED acting in or directing, my fondest musical memory is singing with the Oratorio Society, because we had our concerts in Carnegie Hall. There we were, two hundred strong, plus a full orchestra, amazing soloists, and a packed house, singing Mozart, Handel, Beethoven, the Carmina Burana. The first time I walked on that stage, I just grinned from ear to ear. What a rush to be standing there, where some of the most prestigious musicians in the world had played!

Sadly, I wasn’t one of them. But the fact that even this middling soprano had that opportunity was such a gift — a gift I would never have received had I not been exposed from a young age to the wonders of music performance.

So here’s to Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin, a vibrant, soaring book that I hope spawns generation after generation of glorious band nerds!

This just in: Erik at This Kid Reviews Books has just informed me that today is Mozart’s birthday! How fortuitous. Erik’s got another musical book review, so be sure to hop over there to keep the celebration going!

[heading style=”1″]The Goods[/heading]

Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin

Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin by Lloyd Moss and Marjorie Priceman
Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin by Lloyd Moss and Marjorie Priceman

Written by: Lloyd Moss
Illustrated by:  Marjorie Priceman
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (March 1995)
Award: A Caldecott Honor book
Genre: Picture Book/Fiction
Ages: 4+
Themes/Topics: Music, Musical Instruments, Orchestras, Counting

Opening and Brief Synopsis:

With mournful moan and silken tone,
Itself alone comes ONE TROMBONE.
Gliding, sliding, high notes go low; 
ONE TROMBONE is playing SOLO. 

One by one, other musical instruments join the lone trombone until they’ve formed a “chamber group of ten” and…

The STRINGS all soar, the REEDS implore,
The BRASSES roar with notes galore.
It’s music that we all adore.
It’s what we go to concerts for. 

Links to Resources:

  • Think Bright provides a comprehensive list of multimedia activities, lessons, and links to many Reading Rainbow resources.
  • Eduscapes Library has a long list of links to activities and teaching resources across the curriculum.
  • Bright Hub Education has put together a classical music lesson plan.
  • provides a 4-day unit plan.

Why I Like This Book: Look at these illustrations! The flowing lines of Priceman’s delightfully eccentric musicians — as well as the undulating layout of the text — actually dance you through the book to a rhymed-couplet soundtrack of mournful moans, swinging songs, breezy notes, and flutes that send our souls a-shiver.

Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin by Lloyd Moss and Marjorie Priceman
Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin by Lloyd Moss and Marjorie Priceman

Although the book gently teaches counting and the names of musical instruments, Zin! Zin! really shines as a prelude to music appreciation. It’s full of rhythm and passion and excitement, making you want to grab the nearest paper towel roll and start tooting your way to Carnegie Hall.

Here’s a look at the book from New Hampshire Public Television’s Caldecott Literature Series.

And a trailer with music:

Perfect Picture Book Fridays is a shared weekly event started by children’s author Susanna Leonard Hill. You can find the entire list of recommended picture books on the Perfect Picture Books page on her blog.

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  1. I never got to Carnegie Hall, but I was in the band, orchestra & choir all through high school. As you said so eloquently, a blessed gift to perform with a group that wonderful music! My brother is a music teacher & this book will make a wonderful gift for him, who will appreciate it fully. Thanks for the review!

  2. It’s cool that you were in the Oratorio Society of New York! I play the trumpet – I started learning in September or October of 2011. I really like music a lot. This book sounds great! I like the rhymes 🙂

    1. Erik, that’s great you started trumpet lessons! I started the clarinet when I was ten, too. I think you’ll have lots of fun, especially if your school band ever plays “Sleigh Ride” — the trumpets are the horses in that song!

  3. Loved your personal intro, and music and musicals were a very important part of my youth and university days… and guitar playing accompanied my world travels! Wow, the Carnegie Hall!! Glad you are still singing in Italy!

    That text is delicious and inspirational…. I LOVE your choice this week, Renee!

    1. Lucky you that you can play guitar, Joanna! Nothing like traveling the world with a book and a guitar to keep you company…I can picture you now, strumming on top of some cliff as the sun sets over the ocean…sigh… 🙂

      I love learning what instruments everyone played. If the writing thing doesn’t work out, maybe we could all form a band and take this show on the road! 🙂

  4. Sounds like fun. I love music. I sang in the chorus during middle school and in church during high school. The only instruments I’ve attempted to play are the piano (can you say Twinkle, Twinkle), the harpsichord and recorder (4th and 5th grade), and the harmonica (still practicing).

    This book reminds me of Jazz Baby by Lisa Wheeler, Duke Ellington by Andrea Davis Pinkney, and Rap a Tap Tap by Leo and Diane Dillon. I just checked my library, and lo and behold they actually have Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin. I’m SO excited; it’s an audio book, too! Can’t wait to drive over there and check it out!

    1. You’ll love it, Christie! It’s great that you got to try out all those different instruments…but you MUST stick with the harmonica! Haha, how fun is that? I love portable music….:)

  5. I love Zin, Zin, Zin! This is another one that is on one of the Scholastic DVDs (I can’t remember which set though).

    I was never in a band but do play the guitar as sort of a family tradition. And I always say that my biggest aspiration for my children is that they turn out to be the “best band nerds,” that they can be. 🙂

    We fill our house with music too!

    Great book choice!

    1. Band nerds unite! How I wish I could play guitar — my brothers tried to teach me, but I just don’t have the strength in my fingers to hold those chords down. Somehow, it’s not quite as cool to whip out the clarinet while waiting for a flight or sitting in the park, haha. I think it’s so important to fill the house with music when you have little people about. Yay for you guys! 🙂

  6. I can’t believe I’ve never seen this book before. It is a magnificent choice. I loved the book trailer as it added to the inspiration. Such a lovely introduction for children before taking them to a concert. I also loved your introduction before the book. You’ve had some memorable experiences. I grew up surrounded by classical music and it has always played an important role in my life. I studied piano and seriously thought about studying music in college. Again, thank you for introducing us to this great book!

  7. Very cool Renee! What else can you do — sing, write poetry (that my daughter really likes, she told me she is on letter O in your book already), write great blogs…..

    I am going to pull out our copy of Zin! Zin! and read it today. Thanks for the suggestion.

    1. @ Jennifer – I love finding personal connections with books, and I’m discovering that PBs are helping me relive so many moments I haven’t thought of in so long. Glad you enjoyed it! 🙂

      @ Darlene – I know! I totally wanted to mention the dancing cats, but couldn’t fit it in logically! So glad you noticed them, hehe. 🙂

  8. I love music too, Renee, though not because of my father (who is tone deaf, try though he might to carry a tune :)) I was just one of those people who was born that way – started playing piano as soon as I could climb onto the piano bench. So I love your choice today! You’re right, the illustrations almost look like music, and I love the poetry and the word sounds – like the music itself! Great choice! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. @ Susanna – Is there anything you don’t do? I envy you your piano playing skills – as I mentioned on the pig poem post, that is a lifelong dream. We plan on getting a piano for the boys, but it’s also for me – I WILL learn to play! Lucky you that you can share that beautiful talent with your kids! 🙂

      @ Julie – Don’t miss this one! It really is special!

  9. I love this book! I think that we got our copy in a box of Cheerios – I love their book program, especially their bilingual books – great way to build my classroom library.

  10. Renee, you really hooked me with this book. I love love love the illustrations, and the book trailer is brilliant! A must purchase for the library!

    1. @ Stacy – Yes, I do most of my appreciating from afar, too, haha!

      @ Laurie – I had no idea Cheerios had a book program…good for them! And thanks for stopping in!

      @ Kelly – So glad you liked the review. I would say this is a MUST for any library collection. I know, aren’t those illustrations so…dancy? 🙂

  11. Hello, Renee, I just found your blog via Erik, and like his Magic Flute book, this will be perfect for the small choir group of 5-7 year olds that I run, as I always read them a music-related story at the end of each session – so thank you. And I know what you mean about the rush of singing in a big choir in an amazing place – one of my biggest highlights ever was being part of a huge choir for Mahler 8 in the Albert Hall. I used to live in Rome and did a lot of singing there. Whereabouts in Italy are you?

    1. Hi Marjorie! So glad you found the review useful, and I bet your kids will just love it. And how sweet is a choir of 5-7-year-olds! Wow, Albert Hall – not bad, I’d say…that must have been a fantastic experience! Are you soprano or alto? I’m on the coast of Tuscany and love it!

      1. I’m a kind of lazy soprano – I tend to sing alto in choirs. The Tuscan Coast is beautiful. The first place I ever picked cherries off a tree to eat was near the pineti by Grosseto. Ah, memories 🙂 Did you have a bad time of it in the floods in November?

        I’ve just watched your gorgeous pig poem video…

        By the way, will you be going to the Bologna Book fair?

        1. Small world! I met my husband not far from Grosseto, and we live about an hour north of there. We weren’t touched by the floods at all, though I did feel the earthquake the other day. If all goes well, I will be at the Bologna Book Fair, so do let me know if you’re going. 🙂

  12. Great introduction to a terrific review. I’m no musician or singer but I like to pretend to do both when no one else is around. My only claim to fame is when I was as a student at the American College in Paris in the mid-1960s.

    Our very small college choir was asked to join the Paris Philharmonic and Chorus to go on tour for three days in the south of France. Our performance was Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. I still remember the bass notes were so high I could hardly reach them. What was Beethoven thinking? Your review obviously strikes a chord with many.

    1. Hi Bill, welcome to No Water River, and thanks for adding some punny fun to the mix! What fun to tour with the Paris Philharmonic. We also did Beethoven’s Ninth with the Oratorio Society, and all I remember is some of us sopranos replacing all the words with things like weiner schnitzel and Budweiser. We were young, what can I say?!

      Please pop in when you can. Oh, and I took a look at your site and books – bravo!

  13. Here’s to helping children discover the inner musician in themselves!
    Wonderful review, Renee…I appreciated the links you included. I’m posting each of the reviews from Susannah’s PPBF on Facebook and Twitter…we need to share this unbelievable treasure trove of picture books. 🙂

    1. Thanks so much for posting on FB and Twitter. I agree, we need to publicize our growing list of PBs as much as possible! And I do love these artsy books introducing kids to music, art, and dancing — so important!

  14. I’m very late getting on the Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin! band wagon. But this book is one of my favorites–it’s great fun and rhythmic to read. I bought a copy for my grandchildren, who absolutely adore it–and both of them are now taking piano lessons. I liked this book so much that after I gave it away, I bought another copy for myself!

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