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THE BANJO PLAYER by Elizabeth Starr Hill


by Elizabeth Starr Hill

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-670-84967-7
Publisher: Viking

 In a prequel to Street Dancers and Broadway Chances, Hill goes back to Clement Dale's grandfather, Jonathan, on a journey from New York to New Orleans and beyond. At 12, Jonathan Dale leaves the city streets where he's gotten along on his own for years, performing for passers-by. In 1887, he boards the Orphan Train, hoping to be selected from the line of ragged homeless children for adoption. Chosen by a hardscrabble Louisiana tenant family, Jonathan struggles to fit in and to please his new parents but remains emotionally detached from them and new sister Eugenie (also from the Orphan Train). Jonathan needs people, music, and the chance to perform; the silent hours of grueling farm labor drain him. After exchanging situations with another orphan, he moves to New Orleans, then to a touring riverboat, where he's encouraged to perform once again. Hill's prose is sure and vivid. Though Jonathan's aloofness is somewhat distancing, the story hums with well-drawn characters and quiet humor, ably bringing history to life. (Fiction. 10-14)