THE HARMONICA by Tony Johnston

THE HARMONICA

by & illustrated by
Age Range: 8 & up
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

This dark piece is based on a Holocaust survivor’s experience. A boy lives happily with his parents in Poland, singing and learning to play harmonica; however, the mixed-media illustrations already swirl with anguish and the barbed wire on the cover looms large. Sent to a concentration camp alone, he endures hunger, cold, and forced labor. In a painful twist, an officer discovers his musical gift: “ ‘Play, Jew!’ The commandant spat, night after night.” Tormented, the boy plays Schubert, wrestling with the question of how the beautiful music can both invoke his loving parents and also bring rapture to a murderous Nazi officer. One night in the dark barracks, a voice whispers, “Bless you”: the Schubert has reached the ears of the prisoners as well. So in his heart, he plays for them—and for his gone-forever parents. Frequent figurative language gives the narrative voice an adult tone. Visually effective and grim. (author’s note) (Picture book. 8+)

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 1-57091-547-4
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Charlesbridge
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2003




MORE BY TONY JOHNSTON

ChildrenPUMA DREAMS by Tony Johnston
by Tony Johnston
ChildrenHEY, DOG by Tony Johnston
by Tony Johnston
ChildrenTHE MAGIC OF LETTERS by Tony Johnston
by Tony Johnston
ChildrenBEAST RIDER by Tony Johnston
by Tony Johnston

MORE BY RON MAZELLAN

ChildrenIRENA'S JARS OF SECRETS by Marcia Vaughan
by Marcia Vaughan
ChildrenTHE LONGEST SEASON by Jr. Ripken
by Jr. Ripken

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

ChildrenSTONE ANGEL by Jane Yolen
by Jane Yolen
ChildrenTHE SECRET OF THE VILLAGE FOOL by Rebecca Upjohn
by Rebecca Upjohn