Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The Orphan Band of Springdale

When I heard that this book is based on Springvale, Maine I just had to get it.  My school is in Springvale / Sanford and I couldn't wait to read a book set locally.  Let's be honest - there have been events recently that haven't always cast a good light on the towns so a book set there was a joy.

Gusta is on her way to Springdale with her father at the beginning of the book.  She is going to stay with her grandmother while her mother is in NY working and her father - a union organizer and German - is trying to stay one step ahead of the law.  They get separated early on and Gusta has to find her way to Springdale alone.  Once there she adjusts quickly into her grandmother's home where orphans are taken care of by her grandmother and her aunt.  

Gusta, her cousin, and Josie, one of the orphans, decide to start a band using Gusta's french horn and Josie's voice.  They want to play, and maybe win, at the fair the next summer.  But with war looming there is a lot of suspicion in town about those who might be foreign.  There are also old secrets and injustice that Gusta tries to confront.  

There was a lot going on in this book - it was funny, tragic, honest.  I will admit I may be a bit biased because of the connection - Jefferson School, the old high school, the mills, some of the familiar names.  I can't wait for my students to get ahold of this book and maybe be entranced by the history of our town.

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