Review by Ian Keogh
The charmingly illustrated children’s graphic novels about Violette Vermeer and her family’s circus continue with it arriving in the New York of the 1890s. Already there are Bohemian composer Antonin Dvořák, just appointed head of the prestigious New York Conservatory, struggling to create his latest symphony, and Native American Hiawatha, who plays his flute in the streets, but yearns to escape to Canada. Violette’s ambition is to tame her new horse Misinto, which shows no inclination to let her ride it.
Once again you’ll be immediately struck by Stefano Turconi’s lovely illustrations, loose and elegant cartooning pitched just right to appeal to a younger audience, while adults will be able to see the skill involved and the way he brings people and situations to life. The bright colours help immensely, because if you look closely some of his backgrounds are just scribbles or swirls of colour. Occasionally, as seen on the sample pages, Turconi will surprise by departing from formula to provide an excellent effect.
It won’t be as apparent to younger readers, but Teresa Radice’s script is clever in suggesting the experiences necessary for Dvořák to compose his New World Symphony, which all occur as he accompanies the circus northwards to Canada. There’s also the deeper message that people who want to live in a different country aren’t all bad, never hammered home, just there in passing via Hiawatha’s sympathetic personality. The spiritual aspects included in Violette Around the World: My Head in the Clouds are revisited giving more attuned children plenty to consider about the wonder of nature and why it should be preserved. All that, however, is window dressing as none of it would be taken in without Violette and her friends being cheery children anyone can relate to and having adventures they’ll wrap themselves in. A New World Symphony is another rousing success.