The Harmonicaby Tony Johnston, Ron Mazellan
Tony Johnston's powerful story, inspired by the life of a Holocaust survivor, is enhanced by Ron Mazellan's luminous
When the Nazis invaded Poland, a family is split apart. The parents are sent to one concentration camp, their son to another. Only his father's gift, a harmonica, keeps the boy's hopes alive and, miraculously, ensures his survival.
Tony Johnston's powerful story, inspired by the life of a Holocaust survivor, is enhanced by Ron Mazellan's luminous artwork.
A testament to the human spirit and the transcendent power of music.
Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
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- Penguin Random House Publisher Services
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Meet the Author
Tony Johnston is the author of over 100 books for children, including THE CAT WITH SEVEN NAMES and THE BARN OWLS. She lives in California.
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A semi-finalists in the 2005 Independent Publisher Book Awards! A young Polish boy, living with his parents in a house filled with love and music, yearns for a piano so he can play the music of his favorite composer, Schubert. But the family is poor, and it is the gift of a harmonica that lets the boy make music - until the Nazis find them. Torn from his parents, the boy plays his harmonica in his concentration camp to keep from forgetting what once was and from losing all hope. When the camp commandant hears of his musical prowess, the boy is forced to play for the Nazi. Ashamed of receiving scraps of bread from the officer while others starve, he eventually hears heartfelt thanks from another prisoner. He realizes that, 'Each night, like the very stars, my notes had reached other prisoners.' From then on, when ordered to play, the boy does so with all his heart. There are few happy tales from the Holocaust. But there are many stories of man's indomitable spirit, something that transcends the horrors of that time and place. This is another such tale, based on the true story of a Holocaust survivor. And it expresses the uplifting power of music, which no walls can contain. Luminous illustrations help make this book a masterpiece. Those who enjoy The Harmonica may also enjoy Ruby Lee the Bumble Bee: A Bee's Bit of Wisdom. In it, a young girl perseveres in the face of a challenge, and grows as a result - an award finalist for the Benjamin Franklin Award which also recognizes excellence in independent publishing.
This thoughtful book evoked empathy for the main character but failed to truly engage you in his everyday misery. Towards the middle of the book the author suceeds in having you identify with the character but it is not a true relationship with him as it would have been if the reader had been engaged from the beginning. The book deals with an important issue in history but this get diluted in the stilted language. The book's topic and feelings are slightly older than the suggested age range for the book.