I just read it this morning and couldn’t put it down.  When I did, all I could think was, “Wow.”

Long ago, a boy named Otto was lost in the woods and rescued by three sisters imprisoned there by a witch’s curse.  In return for their help, he promises to help break the curse by carrying their spirits hidden in a magical mouth harp—what we know today as a harmonica, and passing the instrument along to the right person at the right time.    This harmonica ties Otto with three other children—Friedrich in Germany during the Third Reich, an orphan Michael during the Great Depression and Ivy during World War II.  Each child has a musical gift and is faced with personal struggles.  Friedrich and his father must escape Nazi Germany because they don’t fall into line with Hitler’s grand scheme.  Michael and his brother are orphans, trying to stay together, and Ivy faces prejudice because she’s Mexican and her friends are Japanese.  Their stories are linked by their musical talents and fate bringing Otto’s harmonica into their lives, coming together in a triumphant conclusion at New York’s Carnegie Hall.

Recommended for grades 5 and up

Reviewed by Kathy Thornhill, Zauel Memorial Library

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