Lyrical, magical and a heartwarming read.

Summary:

Many years ago, when Otto was a young boy, he got lost in a German forest. Here, he meets three sisters who give him a magical harmonica. If he passes it on and it saves someone's life, they will be freed from captivity. Decades later, in the years leading into World War II, three musically talented children have this exact harmonica come into their lives. Freidrich Schmidt, who lives in Germany, longs to become a conductor, but he is held back by a facial deformity (1933). Mike Flannery, who likes to play piano, lives with his brother Frankie live in an orphanage (1934). Ivy Maria Lopez is a talented harmonica player whose parents think music is silly. With her brother at war, her family moves to care for the farm of a Japanese family that has been forced into an internment camp (1941). Their stories intertwine in New York City, at Carnegie Hall.


BTSYA / Teen Reader (17):
Echo is a captivating book with outstanding dialogue and a heartwarming plot that is sure to be liked by most people. The writing is phenomenal, and so many lines stood out to me as I was reading. I loved every one of the characters and their unique challenges that were all connected by music.

This book is more than 500 pages but it is worth the full read even if it seems daunting at first. Echo is split into four parts: the fairytale that sets up the premise for the story, and the three separate tales for each of the main characters. Even though every section has its own personal themes, all the main three stories carry messages of the power of hope and music. It was slightly strange to have to experience the journeys these children went on separately, but the author did a great job of tying each of their stories together in the end and connecting the result of their actions back to the original fairytale.

I suggest Echo for readers 10 to 15. It might be difficult for a younger audience to understand. It is very comforting to read because it is easy for me to empathize with the individual plotlines and enjoy the feel-good ending. This novel is perfect to buy for someone as a gift, for it is sure to charm anyone who reads it. 


Reader Enjoyment Factors:

Part fairy tale, part fantasy, part historical fiction, readers will be spell-bound by this pitch-perfect story that brings together history, hope, music, and three remarkable characters.

Content Awareness Factors:

None.


Educational Themes:

Enjoy this story for the beautiful storytelling and writing. In between the music and magic are stories that are woven from historical events. Encourage readers to learn more about efforts to help Jews escape Germany, Japanese Internment in the United States, migrant workers, and segregated schools.

Reading Level:
4.9
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
10 and Up
Recommended Age To Read Together:
9 and Up
Age of child:
Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™ . Reviewer's Age: 17
Purchase Recommendation:
Buy. You know the ending after the first time, but it is a feel-good book you'll want to read again.

Title Echo
Author Pam Muñoz Ryan
Publisher Scholastic Press © 2015
ISBN 9780439874021
Material Hard Cover
Cost $19.99
Genres Adventure, Family, Fantasy, Music, Historical Fiction, Social Issues
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