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Second Fiddle

Second Fiddle

4.3 3
by Rosanne Parry

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The author of Heart of a Shepherd offers another sensitive portrayal of military families, this time stationed abroad, in the city of Berlin at that historic time just after the Wall came down.

When 13-year-old Jody and her friends save a badly beaten Russian soldier from drowning, they put into motion a chain of events that will take them from Berlin to


The author of Heart of a Shepherd offers another sensitive portrayal of military families, this time stationed abroad, in the city of Berlin at that historic time just after the Wall came down.

When 13-year-old Jody and her friends save a badly beaten Russian soldier from drowning, they put into motion a chain of events that will take them from Berlin to Paris and straight into danger. Jody must quickly learn to trust herself, because in the time directly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the border between friend and enemy is not as clear as it once was.

Award-winning author of Heart of a Shepherd Rosanne Parry offers a fast-paced, coming-of-age story filled with adventure, music, friendship, and intrigue.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—Growing up in military families in the 1990s has its unique challenges and expectations for Jody, Giselle, and Vivian. These girls must deal with living out of the country, moving frequently, changing schools, and forging new peer relationships. At the same time, high-ranking parent figures provide a level of pressure to perform well and succeed. Based in Germany during the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reuniting of the East and West, the girls become best friends through their classical strings music lessons with maestro. After a much-anticipated music competition in Paris, the girls' families will leave for new assignments. The week before the trip, Herr Müller becomes ill and cannot attend, leaving the girls disappointed yet determined to go. Simultaneously their discovery and secret rescue of a Russian soldier beaten and left for dead has the girls devising a plan to smuggle him to Paris on their unsupervised weekend trip. Suspense, intrigue, and a series of fortuitous circumstances conveniently blend to bring amateurish espionage and adventure to the girls' escapades. Working around their gullibility and innocence, these eighth graders attempt to solve numerous problems from the theft of their passports and money, to working for their meals and way home, to interfering in a possible international incident. Parry introduces some colorful, artsy characters as second fiddles to her three main protagonists led by Jody's first-person narrative. Fast paced and appealing, with a tidy conclusion.—Rita Soltan, Youth Services Consultant, West Bloomfield, MI
Publishers Weekly
Set in 1990, just after the Berlin Wall has fallen, Parry's insightful coming-of-age novel follows the tumultuous journey of three eighth-grade friends who live on an army base in Berlin. Jody, a violinist and classical composer, is dreading leaving her two best friends when her father retires from the army, and she will again be forced to uproot her life to move to Texas. Along with commanding Giselle and brainy Vivian, Jody plans to enter a solo and ensemble contest in Paris as a string trio; their planned performance is thwarted when their teacher falls ill, but when they witness the attempted murder of Arvo, a Soviet soldier and translator, they rescue him and plot to secret him to Paris. The trip doesn't go as planned, and the friends wind up on a wild goose chase with international ramifications. The action may take place in the '90s, but this reads like first-class historical fiction; Parry (Heart of a Shepherd) vividly conjures the political tensions of the period, the challenges of life as an army brat, and the redemptive power of music. Ages 8–12. (Mar.)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
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Random House
770L (what's this?)
File size:
3 MB
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt


Tuesday, May 22, 1990

West Berlin

If we had known it would eventually involve the KGB, the French National Police, and the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, we would have left that body in the river and called the Polizei like any normal German citizen; but we were Americans and addicted to solving other people's problems, so naturally, we got involved.

It began like every Tuesday afternoon. All the other kids from the American school on the army base at Zehlendorf went to the gym or the after-school matinee or the Scout meeting at the community center, but Giselle and Vivian and I took the S-Bahn to our music lesson in downtown West Berlin. Ordinarily, as soon as we found seats on the train, Vivian would get out her geometry book and Giselle would disappear under headphones with a new cassette from the latest girl rock star. If she remembered to bring extra headphones, I'd listen along, but usually I worked on writing my own music: minuets for the violin, mostly. Not nearly as hip as "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun," but I had to start somewhere, and classical music was what I knew. Not that I'd admit this to just anyone, but classical music was what I loved--more than anything.

We were only five days away from the big Solo and Ensemble Contest in Paris. We'd been working on our competition piece, Pachelbel's Canon, since Christmas. Our music teacher thought we had a shot at first place in the twelve-to-fourteen-year-olds group, and Giselle's dad, General Johnson, had bragged to the entire brigade that we were going to clean up, so no pressure or anything. Not that I didn't love winning, but for me the big deal was that it was our first trip to Paris, and it would be our last time ever to perform together as a trio before the army moved Giselle and me back to the States.

So this time, Vivian and Giselle were listening to the Canon together on her Walkman. Vivian closed her eyes and hummed her part, and Giselle ran the fingerings of the tricky section with all the sixteenth notes. A German lady and her kids stared at us like usual. I used to think it was because Giselle was really pretty and kind of hard to miss because she was so tall, but after three years of riding the commuter train, I knew better. I'd never seen a black kid on the train; plenty of Turkish girls, but nobody as dark as Giselle.

We hopped off at the Potsdamer Platz and walked away from the park and museums and into the neighborhood of Kreuzberg, where our music teacher lived. We went right past Checkpoint Charlie--that guardhouse of Communism between the Soviet Union and the West. It was empty and dark as we walked past, abandoned as abruptly as the East Germans had voted out the Communist Party a few months before. The souvenir collectors and reporters had left months ago. Occasionally, we saw a few eager tourists chipping away at the sections of the Wall still standing, but today, nothing.

"So, Jody," Vivian said, "what do you want to see in Paris?"

"The Eiffel Tower," I said automatically. I loved tall things: roller coasters, bridges, the Statue of Liberty, the Space Needle. The upside of being a military kid was that you got to see a lot of cool places. The downside was that every time you made a friend, you had to move away.

"The Eiffel Tower? No way!" Giselle called over her shoulder. As usual, she was a half dozen strides ahead. "Everyone sees the Eiffel Tower. Boring! Let's go to the Racine Club."

"Where?" I said.

"It's a fencing school. The best one in all of France. My fencing master trained there, and he said he'd set up some bouts with the kids who are in training. Come on, it'll be fun!"

I watched one of Giselle's fencing matches last year. Right away I could see why fencing is not a sport on TV.

"Hello?" Vivian said. "This is Paris we're talking about--art museums? Ballet? Neither of you wants to go shopping?"

I, captain of the fashion clueless, shrugged.

"Let's see," Giselle said, turning to face us and extending both hands to weigh the options. "Shopping for fluffy, fruity-smelling French things or meeting Olympic-level athletes--tough call."

Giselle put her hands on her hips and looked down at Vivian, which is not hard even for me. Vivian was the size of your average fourth grader. Vivi glared right back, but it didn't have quite the same punch with her preppy girl clothes and Clark Kent glasses.

"How about this," I broke in as we rounded the corner and came to our music teacher's apartment house. "There's shopping on the Champs-Elysees, right?"

Vivian nodded and held open the door.

"Then we can go to the Arc de Triomphe at the end of the street--that's famous and tall, but not so dorky as the Eiffel Tower, okay?"

Giselle nodded and pushed the button for the elevator.

"And Giselle can, umm . . ."

"Stab anyone who tries to pickpocket us?" Vivian offered.

"Exactly!" I said. "You can stab them fifteen times if you like," I added, remembering how many touches made a match in fencing.

"Perfect!" Giselle said. "And while I go to jail, you two can go see a nice fluffy French ballet." She hip checked Vivian into the elevator as the door slid open and tugged my ponytail as she followed me in.

"I would bring you cake if you were in jail," I said.

"Yes," Vivi added. "Chocolate cake with a bomb inside and directions for your escape in secret code!"

From the Hardcover edition.

Meet the Author

ROSANNE PARRY moved to Germany in the spring of 1990 just as the Berlin Wall was coming down. She ran away to Paris for one glorious weekend with her soldier husband, first-born baby, and an enormous purple stroller. The three of them are best friends to this day. Rosanne is the author of Heart of a Shepherd, which has been honored as a Washington Post's Best Kids' Book of the Year, a Kirkus Reviews Best Children's Book of the Year, and a Horn Book Fanfare Best Book of the Year. She also plays the violin for which she has never been honored with a prize of any kind. She now lives in with her husband in an old farmhouse in Portland, Oregon, where they raise four children, three chickens, five kinds of fruit, and their voices in the occasional song. Visit Rosanne at RosanneParry.com.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Second Fiddle 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
whitebell44 More than 1 year ago
Second Fiddle By Rosanne Perry. It was a very wonderfull book. Filled with mystery,suspence,and adventure. I especialy enjoyed the part were they played music for the family who played at the galla. It was a book based in West Berlin in the year 1990. It is about 3 children who plan on going to Paris for a music competition. But when their music teacher needs surgery they find out they cant go. Dissapointed they go out for galato. They take it down to the river were they find a rassbery bush and decide to call it their secret hiding place. Hidden from the world at the moment a truck drives up and out come four Russian soldiers carring a unconsious russian soldier. They throw him over the brige and drive away. Being kind hearted girls they go save him. After he recovers they devolope a plan to go to Paris and pertende the russian soldier is their music teacher. They go to Paris and compete in the competition only to be deserted by the russian soldier. They go through paris alone with no money and no parents. So their journey begins. If you want to no want happen to them in paris read this book. Rosanne Perry did a great job at letting the children travel through West Berlin and Paris. I think that if you like to read you will like this book. I greatley enjoyed this book and would gladley read it again. Complements of the Mother Daughter Book Club.
Heidi_G More than 1 year ago
Berlin, May 1990, six months after the fall of the Wall. Jody and her two best friends are trying to make the most of the time they have left together. The three girls, daughters of American Army soldiers, will soon be separated as Jody and Giselle’s families are moving back to the States. An upcoming music competition in Paris is supposed to be their last hurrah, but plans change after they watch a soldier get beaten and then thrown in a river by KGB soldiers. This is a wonderful story about friendship, making difficult decisions, and standing up for what is right. Pair this book with Wallflower by Holly-Jane Rahlens for another look at Berlin shortly after the fall of the Wall. The cover art on the hardcover edition will not appeal to many of my students, although I believe it fits quite well with the story. The paperback edition will be published 3/13/12 with new cover art.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Jody, Giselle, and Vivian live on a military base in Germany. The three girls have one thing in common - music. They have been taking lessons from Herr Muller for years and are about to attend another competition. Their string trio has played well in the past, but this year they've practiced hard and are hoping to win. However, they will soon learn about much more than their music. While the girls have been busy practicing, history has been changing around them. It's 1990 and the Berlin Wall between East and West Germany has crumbled. The changes in Germany mean that Jody's father will be retiring and moving them back to the United States. Because of this, she is especially excited about playing with her friends for perhaps the last time. One thing Jody is not expecting is to see a young soldier thrown off a bridge. As her friends watch, she rescues the soldier, and they drag him to safety. Once he is out of danger, the girls learn his name is Arvo Kross. He explains that he is an Estonian, and that he was attempting to leave his regiment because he was being ordered to complete a dangerous mission he believed was wrong. Arvo convinces the girls that his life is in danger if he remains in Berlin, and he insists that even the Americans at the German base will not be able to help him. Jody is determined to help Arvo find a safe haven. When the girls find out their music teacher won't be able to take them to their competition in Paris as scheduled, Jody sees a chance to help Arvo. Since their parents don't know about the cancelled performance, Jody explains how they can pool their resources and help Arvo leave Berlin to seek help in Paris. Besides saving their new friend, the three girls think he will be able to act as the adult necessary to get them registered for the music competition. What follows is an exciting journey to the city of Paris. The girls do make an appearance at the competition, but that's just the beginning of their musical adventure. Rosanne Parry is the author of SECOND FIDDLE, as well as an earlier novel titled HEART OF A SHEPHERD. In her author's note for this book, she explains that her own experiences in Germany from 1990-1992 inspired her story. SECOND FIDDLE features three strong characters who take matters into their own hands, and through creative problem-solving manage to take care of themselves and at the same time uncover a bit of espionage.