February’s Book Pick is the luminous ECHO, by Pam Muñoz Ryan, which recently won a Newbery Honor. When Otto gets lost in the forest, he meets three otherworldly sisters who infuse his harmonica with magic, and the tale begins.
We follow as this harmonica touches the lives of three children who could all use a little magic: First there is Friedrich, who must save his father from one of Hitler’s concentration camps, then orphaned Mike in depression-era Philadelphia, and finally Ivy, daughter of Mexican American farmworkers in World War II California. All three children build better lives through their love of, and talent for, music.
Structurally, this novel comes full circle, with the different narrative segments held together by the same magical harmonica. As each owner passes the instrument along, so do readers follow the path of this story.
The writing is lovely, and while the vehicle is music, this novel celebrates art and artists of all kinds, as did the author’s previous work, THE DREAMER.
Read ECHO and prepare to be inspired, energized, and enriched.