Thursday, April 23


Pam Muñoz Ryan

My rating: ★★★★

ISBN: 978-0439874021
Publisher: Scholastic
Date of publication: February 24, 2015
Age: Grades 5 - 9
Genre: Historical Fiction

Themes: music, family, WWII, adversity, integrity

"Lost in the Black Forest, Otto meets three mysterious sisters and finds himself entwined in a puzzling quest involving a prophecy, a promise, and a harmonica. Decades later, as the second World War approaches, the lives of three children—Friedrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania, and Ivy in California—become interwoven when the very same harmonica lands in their lives. All the children face daunting challenges: rescuing a father, protecting a brother, holding a family together. Pulled by the invisible thread of destiny, their solo stories converge." (from

I had to copy a summary for the book because it is so complex and lovely, I didn't know how to give the 592-page-book justice in just a few sentences. I mean, the official summary barely gives it justice! It's amazingly well-written, interweaving stories and destinies, fairytale and the actual historical atrocities with which these kids are dealing. But that is also a small (very small) complaint I have, in that, a book dealing with the Holocaust, the Depression, and segregation in has an awfully happy ending. Really, it's a tiny complaint. Also, Mike's story wasn't as compelling for me--I thought he was being pretty ignorant. BUT. Otherwise, the characters were fantastic (I especially loved Ivy) and the writing is superb. Highly recommended and I may even add it to my Newbery watch list.

It kind of read likes Cloud Atlas (characters connected across time and space), but that's not something I'd recommend to kids. Other readalikes include West of the Moon (historical fiction meets fairytale) and any book that celebrates the power of music.

Find it at your library or on Amazon

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