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Ryan, Pam Muñoz
New York : Scholastic Press, 2015
IL 5-8, RL 5.3
ISBN 0439874025

(2 booktalks)

Click on the book to read Amazon reviews

Booktalk #1

When Otto gets lost in the woods during a game of hide-and-seek, he is rescued by three mysterious sisters who are trapped in the forest by a witch’s curse. In exchange for saving his life, the sisters ask Otto to help them break the witch’s curse by carrying their spirits out into the world inside a harmonica. When the time is right, they ask that Otto pass the harmonica along to another. Over the years, Otto’s harmonica travels across time and space and finds a home with several young talented musicians: Friedrich in Nazi Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania during the Great Depression, and Ivy in California during World War II. Otto’s harmonica plays a deep and meaningful role for all of its players, and their lives and stories beautifully weave together through the instrument and through their love of music. (Vermont DCF Book Award 2017)

Booktalk #2

This story starts as any good story does, with a fairy tale. Otto meets three sisters alone in the forest. They give him a harmonica and state that they have to use it to save three lives before they are allowed to leave their wooded prison. Years later, Friedrich is in Germany as Hitler is coming to power. Treated differently, because of a birthmark on his face, he finds out that he has a talent with a harmonica. Soon thereafter, his father is taken away for speaking out against Hitler. Can Friedrich save his father? Shortly after, Mike and Frankie are orphans in Philadelphia until they are temporarily adopted. Mike realizes that he’s got to find a way to make a living to take care of his brother. Could he get into the Philadelphia Harmonica Band and stop looking for the worst in everything? Ivy and her family are moving into a house! But what happened to the people who lived there before them. Were they Japanese spies? And why can’t Ivy attend the same school as her neighbors? Just as it begins, the fairy tale weaves all these stories back together. Even though it is filled with cliffhangers, all of our characters must take a lesson from the sisters, “Your fate is not yet sealed, even in the darkest night, a star will shine, a bell will chime, a path will be revealed.” (Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Award 2017-2018)

SUBJECTS:     California -- History -- 20th century -- Fiction.
                        Family life -- Fiction.
                        Fate and fatalism -- Fiction.
                        Germany -- History -- 1933-1945 -- Fiction.
                        Harmonica -- Fiction.
                        Historical fiction.
                        Music -- Fiction.
                        Pennsylvania -- History -- 20th century -- Fiction.

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