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Nina's Waltz
by Corinne Demas

Illustrated by Deborah Lanino

Published by Orchard Books
September, 2000

A Selection of Nest Literary Classics
How to Get This Book
Behind the Scenes


  Now Nina thinks her father is the best fiddler in the state, maybe even the whole country. As they drive along in the early morning light to a fiddle contest, she's sure he'll win first place. After all, he's planning to play his new tune, the special one he wrote for her birthday, "Nina's Waltz."
     But there's an accident, and Nina's father can't perform. Before he realizes it, another musician -- someone who's afraid to play in front of strangers -- picks up his fiddle and heads for the stage.

(You can listen to "Nina's Waltz" on-line.)

How to Get This book:

1. Ask for it at your local library.
If they don't have it, they may be able to get it for you from another library.

2. Order it on-line.

the fiddle contest


Behind the Scenes

     Deborah Lanino used two girls to model for the part of Nina in the story. She needed someone who played violin, and she advertised at Third Street Music School Settlement in New York. By coincidence Third Street Music School is where I learned to play the violin when I was a girl. You can read all about it in my memoir, Eleven Stories High: Growing Up in Stuyvesant Town, 1948--1968. Third Street Music School Settlement is in a new building now on Eleventh Street, but it's kept its original name.

     Here I am playing the violin when I was around Nina's age.

     Alex Demas plays the banjo

     Alex Demas (who is my cousin) wrote the original music for Nina's Waltz. He was inspired by two titmice who were calling to each other -- the opening measures of the tune he wrote is based on their song. Deborah Lanino has incorporated these birds in her illustrations. See if you can spot them!
      Alex is the founder and director of the Lowell Annual Banjo and Fiddle Contest, which is now in its 22nd year. He is a ranger at Lowell National Historical Park and for fifteen years was the only music specialist in the National Park Service. "Cottonmill Girls," his popular recording of immigrant songs and mill tunes, is available at Eastern National Parks and Monuments. On the tape Alex plays not only fiddle, but banjo, mandolin, guitar, mountain dulcimer and autoharp.

About the Illustrator

Deborah Lanino
     Deborah Lanino wanted to be an artist for as long as she can remember. She studied art at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and in Florence, Italy, where she also learned about her own heritage. Her ancestor, Bernardino Lanino, was a painter in Vercelli, Italy during the Renaissance.
     Deborah has illustrated more than a dozen book covers for young adult novels and numerous magazine articles, in addition to working on her own paintings. She's the illustrator of two other picture books: The Littlest Angel, by Charles Tazewell and Maria's Comet, by Deborah Hopkinson.
     She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her family and their pug dog, Popcorn.
     Check out her web site, www.deborahlanino.com.



         A hymn to the transforming power of music. Nina's father is the best fiddler she knows -- "The best in the whole state. In the whole country." Early one morning, the two of them leave for a fiddle contest that offers a first prize of $200, money the family desperately needs. Her father plans to play "Nina's waltz," a song that he wrote for her birthday. After several wasps sting his hand and he is unable to play, Nina overcomes her own stage fright and takes his place. Demas's quiet story is accompanied by soft acrylic paintings that echo the peaceful, rural setting. Graceful musical notes appear throughout, dancing serenely across purple-and-blue skies.

-- School Library Journa

This is a charming tale about the magic of violin music and the loving bond between father and daughter. The author, using simple yet softly lyrical prose, shows us a glimpse into a young girl’s life and her resolution not to let her dad down. This is also a story about the power of self esteem and believing in oneself. The illustrations are beautiful and even dream-like at times, bringing to life the countryside, Nina, and the ethereal magic of violin music. This would make a lovely present to any little violin player, especially a girl.

-- Mayra's Secret Bookcase

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