- Kathleen Hughes
“For me, the violin means everything . . . life.” —Ada Rios
In Ada Ríos’ hometown of Cateura, Paraguay, trash is a way of life. The landfill is a source of income for the gancheros, or recyclers, who spend the days picking through trash to find cardboard or plastic to sell. As a young girl, Ada wondered if she, too, would grow up to work in the landfill. Most people in her town did. Little did she know that trash would be a large part of her life in a completely unexpected way.
One day, Ada’s grandmother signed her up for free music lessons from Favio Chávez. There was just one problem: Señor Chavez owned only five instruments, but ten children had signed up for his class. Señor Chávez decided to make instruments for his students using what was almost overwhelmingly available to him: trash! Soon the students each had their own instruments, including Ada, and the Recycled Orchestra was formed. With much perseverance and practice, the music students created their own future, apart from the landfill.
Today, the Recycled Orchestra travels around the world performing beautiful music with their instruments. School-age children will love the story and vibrant illustrations in Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay, by Susan Hood and illustrated by Sally Wern Comport. Other inspirational picture books for school-age children include The Red Bicycle: The Extraordinary True Story of One Ordinary Bicycle, by Jude Isabella, and One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia, by Miranda Paul.
Watch the video below for a live performance of the Recycled Orchestra!