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General Review

We listened to this book on Audio and really enjoyed it.  The book involves a lot of music and the audio includes the music so it really enhances the experience.  It is read with four voices, including a German accent.   The book is told in multiple, almost unrelated parts.  It begins fifty years before the war to end all wars with Otto who has recently acquired a harmonica from a gypsy, and has a magical adventure.  It is unclear how but we surmise that this is the same harmonica that Friedrich finds in Germany in the time when Hitler is coming into power. (Oct. 1933)

Part One
The book assumes a general understanding of Hitler and the effects of world war.  Elementary readers may not get all the nuance.  Friedrich is a boy born with a large facial birthmark that is almost a disability because of the ostracization it creates.  Couple that with his propensity to act upon the music he hears in his head and this makes him quite a pitiful character.  His mother is dead, his sister has joined the Nazi movement and his father is sent to Dachau.  Just when it seems things might be set right there is an incident causing quite an emotional scene and bringing Part One to an unresolved close as it seems that Friedrich is taken away by guards.

Part Two
In Part Two there is again a high-level theme that may go over the heads of younger readers - the concept of Mrs. Sturbridge being afraid to open her heart to the boys because, "Everyone who matters to me leaves me."  This part takes us to June, 1935 in Philadelphia County, PA with two orphan brothers in a group home.  It seems they will be adopted and, you guessed it, a harmonica comes into the story.  Just when it seems things are going to work out, there is a hiccup, probably a misunderstanding and the story comes to an abrupt end, leaving the reader to wonder if one of the brothers is even alive.

Part Three
December, 1942, a year after Pearl Harbor, in southern California.  What we surmise to be the same harmonica has now landed with a fifth grade Hispanic girl whose parents are migrant workers and whose brother is off to war.  As in the first section there are racial undertones and discrimination that may be missed by younger readers.  My entering fifth grader did not understand that the Lopez family were poor, migrant workers.  I feel like there is a large moral question that would be good for a discussion group in this section:  In Chapter 17 was Mr. Lopez correct to let Mr. Ward into the Yamamoto's house?  When the section concludes, Ivy is running towards home after seeing the Western Union messenger go towards her house.  Running after her is her friend Susan who has already experienced the deathly message that the boy brings.

Overall this book is a little heavy and deals with a lot of death and sad events.  For quite a while many situations are left unresolved and it feels like the characters have met a very tragic end.  But at the end of the book everything wraps up nicely and ends happily.  Almost all of the characters wind up in the same place.  As Friedrich reflects on "Porgy & Bess" it really reinforces the ties between the different parts as he says, "a lonely man with a crippled body; a bully who thought he could rule the world; an ever-present evil; the loss of a loved one to something beyond his control; and what seemed an insurmountable challenge."

Round 1 Questions

What book begins with a game of hide and seek?

"Echo" (p. 2)

In what book are three sisters named for numbers?

"Echo"  (p. 7)

In what book does a character have
a large birthmark on his face?

(p. 45-46, Friedrich)

In what book does a character become
an apprentice at the age of eight?

(p. 48, Friedrich)

In what book is a character advised to sit on their hands?

"Echo" (p. 50)

In what book does a character have
an imaginary friend named Hansel?

(p. 54, Friedrich)

In what book is a boy referred to as "Monster Boy"?
"Echo" (p. 50 and 55, Friedrich) 

In what book does a character enjoy
eating his lunch with grebes?

(p. 68) 

In what book is a character nervous
about performing in front of a jury?

(p. 81)

In what book is a child born with epilepsy?
"Echo" (p. 94, 96)

In what book is a character invited to
a "Winter Solstice Rally"? 

(p. 185)

In what book is a character "almost six feet tall
at eleven years old and have red hair"?

(p. 199)

In what book is it a punishment to spend time in the cellar? 

"Echo" (p. 214)

In what book do kids listen to
"Buck Rogers in the 25th Century"?

(p. 224)

In what book are kids designated as "uppers" or "lowers"?

"Echo" (p. 226)

In what book does a Grandma often say,
"You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar."?

(p. 229)

In what book do boys take a wagon to Four Corners
to deliver some boxes? 

(p. 230) 

In what book do people live in a house on Amaryllis Drive?

"Echo" (p. 257) 

In what book is a character falsely accused of being a thief
in Highlander's Department Store?

(p. 279) 

In what book does a character leave nosegays and pictures
outside a bedroom door?

(p. 300)

In what book do kids get Good Humor bars in the park?

"Echo" (p. 313)

In what book does a character go
to the downtown YMCA for try-outs?

(p. 334)

In what book is cake,
"as much for trying as for anything else"?

(p. 348)

In what book does a girl wear her brother's jacket? 

"Echo" (p. 371)

In what book does a mother retrieve clothes
from the "community clotheslines"?

 (p. 373)

In what book do best friends have matching purple hats?

"Echo" (p. 378) 
In what book is Papa "always looking for
a place called Better"?

(p. 385) 

In what book are "blackout curtains"
required to be used after dark?

(p. 411) 
In what book is a flag with a gold star
a symbol that a soldier has died?

(p. 432) 
In what book is there a wagon that children play in?

"Echo" (p. 433) 

In what book is a character humiliated because
they go to a different school?

(p. 432) 
In what book does a character declare,
"I will not make a problem.  I will make a solution."

(p. 456, Mr. Lopez) 

In what book is a character nicknamed Mars?

"Echo" (p. 475, Fernando) 

In what book is a family's Christmas tradition to
"drink hot chocolate and eat cookies and
stay up until midnight to open presents"?

(p. 473)

In what book does a character discover a secret room?

"Echo" (p. 510) 

In what book does a character receive
a commendation for bravery from the President?

(p. 522, Mr. Yamamoto) 

Round 2 Questions

What two things does Otto get from the gypsy in "Echo"?

a book and a harmonica (p. 21) 

In "Echo", why does Otto feel compelled
to buy the book from the gypsy?

because the title had his name in it
(p. 3)

How much does Otto pay the gypsy in "Echo"?

a pfennig (p. 3) 

What is the name of the boy from the factory in "Echo"
who invites Friedrich to the Hitler Youth events?


What shape are the cookies that Elizabeth
sent to Friedrich in "Echo"?

(p. 169)

In "Echo", what does Uncle Gunter use as an excuse
for not going to work on Monday?

toothache or dentist appointment
(p. 177)

In "Echo", what letter is on the side of the harmonica?

"M" (p. 187) 
What are the names of the two brothers in Part 2 of "Echo"?

Michael (Mike) and Franklin (Frankie) (Flannery) (p. 209) 

In "Echo", what song do Mike and Frankie play
on the piano for Mr. Golding and Mr. Howard?

"America the Beautiful"
(p. 245)
After Mike and Frankie get adopted,
what street do they live on in "Echo"?

Amaryllis Drive
(p. 257)
What is the name of the store where Mr. Howard takes
Mike and Frankie shopping in "Echo"?

Highlander's (Department Store)
(p. 279)
In "Echo", what two items does Frankie leave
at Mrs. Sturbridge's bedroom door?

nosegays and pictures
(p. 300)
How long is the waiting period for adoption in "Echo"?

three months (p. 310)
What literary technique is demonstrated by Pam Munoz Ryan when she says, "The fog still a thick soup"?

(p. 399)
What literary technique is demonstrated by Pam Munoz Ryan when she says, "She felt as if she'd been fed
through the wringers on the washing machine"?

(p. 454)
What spills out of the box that falls in the closet
in the Yamamoto's house in "Echo"?

photos (pictures)
(p. 484)
What is hidden in the Yamamoto's secret room in "Echo"

instruments OR prized possessions/property of their friends 
What literary technique is used when Pam Munoz Ryan says,
"in a theatre crowned with a halo of light"?

imagery (p. 546)