H for harmonica in Echo, by Pam Munoz Ryan (book review) – 3 musicians play a promise

book cover of Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan published by ScholasticTerror as father is taken,
fear of orphan brothers being separated,
despair at losing friends and opportunities.

Three young people whose lives are terribly disrupted in the turbulent years leading into World War II find comfort in playing a harmonica with magical music and unknowingly fulfill a pleasing prophecy.

Find this wonderful spring 2015 release at your favorite local library or independent bookstore so that you can discover the intricate music this wonderful harmonica threads through lives that need it most.

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Book info: Echo / Pam Munoz Ryan. Scholastic Press, 2015.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk:  A harmonica crafted through magic and mystery links three young people in different countries and times as they use their musical talents to overcome terrible odds.

In 1933 Germany, Friedrich apprentices in the harmonica factory with his father and uncle, away from those who mock his facial birthmark and conducting of the music he’s heard. As the tide of Nazi fervor overtakes his sister, threatens free-thinkers like his father, and condemns the harmonica as uncivilized, the melodies that 12 year old Friedrich plays are a small consolation.

At a Pennsylvania orphanage in 1935, Mike and little Frankie are determined to stay together. When a lawyer requests ‘musical children’ specifically, the brothers find themselves in a grand mansion whose owner wants to adopt one daughter! Tragedy took music out of Mrs. Sturbridge’s life years ago – perhaps 11 year old Mike’s practice for Hoxie’s Harmonica Band auditions can make her smile again.

Ivy plays harmonica concerts for her brother Fernando before he joins the army in 1942, before Papa is hired to care for a Japanese family’s California orange groves while they are detained in internment camp. The bigger cottage is nice, but not the rundown Americanization school for Mexican children – will the fifth grader be allowed to play in the new orchestra at the main school?

“Your fate is not yet sealed.
Even in the darkest night, a star will shine,
a bell will chime, a path will be revealed.”

Bracketed by the prophecy and promise fairy tale of the harmonica’s creation, the stories of Friedrich, Michael, and Ivy playing this fabulous instrument Echo with hope, joy, and longing to ensure their families’ well-being.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

One thought on “H for harmonica in Echo, by Pam Munoz Ryan (book review) – 3 musicians play a promise

  1. Anything related to the Holocaust appeals to me (some friends, growing up, had parents who survived the Holocaust, including concentration camp survivors). The music theme is a plus. One of those friends married a man deeply interested in music and I am still friends with them many years later. I am planning to find and read this book.

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