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Posts Tagged «music»

Echo

Monday, April 18th, 2016

echoby Pam Munoz Ryan, 585 pages, Grades 6-8

Echo is a book of connected stories all following a particular musical instrument through time. The first takes place in Germany at the beginning of World War 2, 1933. Friedrich’s family is worried he might be noticed and persecuted by the Nazi’s because he is such an unique child. Even though they are unable to disentangle Friedrich’s sister from the Nazi youth, they know they must escape what Germany is becoming. The next story takes place in 1935 in an orphanage in Pennsylvania; Mike and his brother Frankie are hoping to get adopted, but are planning a daring escape in the event that they don’t get adopted before its time to send the older brother to an institution for teens that would separate the boys. The final story takes place in California in 1942; Ivy Maria’s family are farmers.  A neighboring family has asked them to oversee their farm in trade for partial ownership. Their neighbors are Japanese and have been forced to move to internment camps after Pearl Harbor was attacked and leave their farm unattended. Ivy’s father wants to help, and sees it could be a good opportunity for his family, but there are some who would like to ransack the Yamamoto’s house while they are away. Will the family be safe there? All the stories are folded together in the last section’s satisfying conclusion; it is a long read, but such a hard one to put down once you have started.

If you enjoy historical fiction books you might also like: Esperanza Rising, by Pam Munoz Ryan, Jefferson’s Sons, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, or Rodzina, by Karen Cushman.

Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Drums1by Jordan Sonnenblick.    p. 273    Grades 6-8

Most younger brothers can be a pain, but 8th grader Steven Alper’s five-year-old brother Jeffrey really takes the cake or pie, that is.  He borrows Steven’s prized pair of drumsticks to stir his dangerous pie, a “zesty blend of coffee grounds, raw eggs and their smashed shells, Coke, uncooked bacon, and three Matchbox racing cars.”   When he’s not trying to keep his mischievous brother from being a pest, Steven is pretty much preoccupied by his two passions–drums and beautiful 8th grader Renee–that is, until his little brother is diagnosed with leukemia.  The diagnosis and subsequent hospitalization of Jeffrey turn Steven’s life upside down.  He’s trying to keep his family’s situation a secret from friends and adults at school but having a difficult time coping on his own–which he is because his mom’s staying at the hospital and his dad is lost in his own world.   Torn between resentment toward his parents for neglect and compassion for  his little brother, Steven loses himself in his music, taking refuge in the basement with his drum set.  He’s feeling pretty hopeless until he takes the school counselor’s suggestion and focuses on what he can change.

Although the story is sad in parts, Steven narrates it with sarcasm and humor and what comes through strongest are the love these brothers feel for each othe and their resilience.  This is a story that will pull at your heart strings.

Connections:  The sequel is After Ever After.   If you enjoy Drums, Girls, & Dangerous Pie, you would probably also like Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie by David Lubar.  The library also owns nonfiction on leukemia and coping with serious illnesses.

Lang Lang: Playing with Flying Fingers

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

lang langby Lang Lang with Michael French.  p. 215  Grades 5-8

Would you think that watching Tom and Jerry cartoons could inspire you to become one of the world’s greatest pianists?  Well, that’s what happened to famous pianist Lang Lang.  When he was three years old, he loved watching cartoons, especially Tom and Jerry.  In one cartoon episode, Tom, the cat, is dressed up in a tuxedo and playing a concert piano.  He awakens little Jerry, the mouse, who has been sleeping on the strings, and then the mischief begins with Jerry jumping out of the piano and onto the keys.   The cartoon made young Lang Lang realize how much fun playing the piano could be, and in his imagination, he was Tom one minute and Jerry the next.  By the time he was five years old, he was winning major competitions.   His memoir not only tells of his passion for music, but also of the very long hours of practice and work.  He was born in Shenyang, China to poor parents.  His father was determined that Lang Lang would be a famous pianist and put tremendous pressure on his son to excel.  At times heartbreaking, this memoir is a must read for any aspiring musician.

Connections:  You might also enjoy these music biographies:  John Lennon:  All I Want Is the Truth; The Voice that Changed a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights; Lives of the Musicians:  Good Times, Bad Times (And What the Neighbors Thought); and Johann Sebastian Bach:  And the Art of Baroque Music.   To see a video of Lang Lang performing, check out this link.  We apologize for the brief commercial.