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The Harmonica by Tony Johnston

The Harmonica

by Tony Johnston

Other authors: Ron Mazellan (Illustrator)

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1933161,059 (4.51)1

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The Harmonica, is the story about a young Polish boy during the Holocaust. He had a harmonica that he loved to play, even when times are hard and sad, because it brought positivity and happiness to the gloomy situation. This was especially true once the Nazi's took him from his home, he was then forced to play for them everyday in exchange for bread. He wasn't just playing for the Nazi's, he was also helping play for the other prisoners in the camp. From this book, people are able to see and realize how important music is for life. This picture book is filled with illustrations that help to tell the story in a creative way. As the story changes from happy to gloomy, the pictures follow suit and change from bright and colorful to grey and cold. This book does a great job of explaining a horrible and tragic event in history, in a way that can accurately portray meaning to younger children. ( )
  Kailynevans | Nov 1, 2017 |
I liked this book for many reasons. First, it was inspired by a true story of a man who was taken to a concentration camp where he survived due to his playing of his harmonica. The language is very descriptive and poetic. The writing is organized well, and well paced. No details appear to be missing from beginning to end, I felt as though I was being provided with all the information necessary throughout the story.The book is written in simple sentences but the word choices accurately get the emotion and messages across. The point of view was in that of the child who was taken from his family and brought to the concentration camp. I felt well connected to the character and felt sorry for the hardships he had to go through in order to survive this ordeal. The illustrations were beautiful and enhanced the story with darker colors used throughout the illustrations to set the mood. This book pushes readers to thing about hardships and that hope and helping others get through hardships can help you get through difficulties. The main message of this story is that there is always hope in dark times. ( )
  Jcomfo1 | Mar 21, 2016 |
I really enjoyed reading this book. This particular story tells how music connects and saves us all. I really enjoyed how the main character was able to soften the hearts of some of the camp leaders as well as bring a form of peace to the other prisoners. The illustrations were particularly powerful in exploiting the truth of what concentration camps were like so that students can have a better understanding. We see a perspective of the war through a child's eyes and how they dealt with their time in the concentration camps. In a time of great horror and distress, there was still a sense of hope among those being persecuted. Having the perspective of a young boy allowed the readers a look at an innocent point of view. His view of the concentration camps may be wildly different from that of an adult and we are able to see how a child felt throughout those hard times. I think students in middle school would really benefit from reading this book as it helps them understand history. However, I think elementary students would be too young to benefit from this story since it is very emotional and they will not be able to understand the Holocaust to the extent older students can. ( )
  mblodgett15 | Mar 3, 2016 |
I found this story to be very interesting in many ways. The story tells a story of a young boy who was torn away from his family and sent to a concentration camp. The young boy was able to survive the hardship of the camp by playing his harmonica every day. The illustrations throughout the book were drawn appropriately to the different moods of the story. When the young boy was happy the colors of the book were very bright and colorful. But when the young boy was sad the colors of the book we very dull and dark. The language the author used was very vivid. The readers can see and feel what this young boy is going through as the story progresses. The reader could tell when the young boy was happy when he said, “we sang and we listened to the gramophone’s sweet notes, and we lived our lives.” However, the reader could tell when the young boy was sad when he said, “I was sent to a concentration camp, swallowed, dreams and all, down the dark Nazi throat.” The author used more dark words when the young boy was in a miserable state. The characters in the book are very believable. If the readers have some background knowledge on this topic, they will be able to understand what this young boy was going through. The big idea of the story is to show how music and beautiful things can get anyone through a hard time in their lives. In the end, this relates to the title of the book “The Harmonica” because it was the harmonica that got the young boy through this horrible experience. ( )
  madelinependergast | Feb 8, 2016 |
This book is based on the true story of Henryk Rosmarin who was a little boy who played harmonica for the Nazis at a concentration camp during WWII. His love for music and his skill with the harmonica not only saved his life, but it also helped other prisoners in the camp as well by uplifting them and giving them hope.

I really enjoyed the book, especially the text. "Each night, like the very stars, my notes had reached other prisoners." was my favorite line. I enjoyed the illustration as well but felt a few scenes were a bit too dark. I know it was meant to set the tone of the book, but it was rough on my eyesight.

I think this book would be a good read before, during, or after a lesson about World War II and the Holocaust, though it may be a bit too grim for younger grade levels. ( )
  NRedler | Feb 4, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tony Johnstonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Mazellan, RonIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Sam and his father sail from England to America to begin a new life in Jamestown, but they run into trouble when their money is stolen and they have to defend themselves in court.

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2 editions of this book were published by Charlesbridge.

Editions: 1570915474, 1570914893

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