The Orphan Band of Springdale

8 CDs. 9:42 hrs. Brilliance Audio. Apr. 2018. $49.97. ISBN 9781543687484.
Gr 4–6—Gusta's troubles begin in 1941 when her father—an infamous labor union organizer—disappears as he's placing her on a bus from New York City to Maine. Eleven-year-old Gusta arrives at her destination, an orphan house run by her Grandma Hoops, carrying little more than her precious French horn. Multiple intriguing plot lines emerge: anti-German American sentiment, labor union disputes, Gusta's previously undiagnosed vision problems, her surprising musical talent, a persistent search for an ancestor's last remaining magic wish, an elderly Jewish man's homing pigeons, and family secrets. Alliances and friendships, bravery and perseverance, strong-willed characters, and a satisfying conclusion characterize this distinctive novel. Kate Rudd exudes perfect empathy for the protagonist here. Her pace and voice moderation allow listeners to easily distinguish among the cast of characters.
VERDICT The profusion of subplots might confuse a casual listener. However, those who pay attention will certainly gain new insight into Americans' prejudices about labor unions and immigrants at World War II's beginning.–Debbie Whitbeck, West Ottawa Public Schools, Holland, MI

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