The Orphan Band of Springdale
The Orphan Band of Springdale
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Annotation: Inspired by her mother's fanciful stories, Gusta hopes to find the coin-like "Wish" that her sea-captain grandfather supposedly left hidden. Meanwhile, she copes with bigotry, a sense of isolation, and an explosive family secret.
Catalog Number: #155842
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Copyright Date: 2018
Edition Date: 2018
Pages: 435 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-7636-8804-5
ISBN 13: 978-0-7636-8804-2
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2018940933
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
In 1941, with her union-organizer father fleeing government agents, and her mother working in New York City, 11-year-old Gusta is sent to live in Springdale, Maine, with her grandmother and aunt, who run a small orphanage in their home. Gusta gradually adjusts to the town, making friends, working at home, and earning the money for her new glasses by helping the oculist, Mr. Bertmann, with his shop and his hobby of training carrier pigeons. But when she attempts to sell her beloved French horn to help her family, she loses both the instrument and the money. Nesbet bases her novel on stories of her mother's hardscrabble childhood in southern Maine. The seemingly quiet setting has its share of injustice and pain: a mill owner firing a badly injured worker, locals threatening neighbors with German-sounding names, and the dark, painful secret behind a child's unknown parentage. Intelligent, empathetic, and brave up to a point, Gusta is the most complex of the many well-drawn characters whose stories intersect, sometimes in surprising ways. A rewarding historical novel.
Horn Book
In 1941, eleven-year-old Gusta is sent to live with her grandmother, who runs an orphan home in Maine. As the story unfolds, she gets in trouble for protesting at the local mill, writing about the true meaning of patriotism, forming an orphans' band, and more. Gusta also finds the missing (magic) "Wish" her mother told her about and uncovers a family secret. While overstuffed, the novel is heartfelt and thought-provoking.
Kirkus Reviews
It's 1941, and Gusta, 11, has been sent—actually nearly abandoned—to the care of her grandmother in a small Maine town.Her father, a German immigrant and labor organizer, is on the run from the law, and her mother is struggling financially in New York City, so it seems to make sense for Gusta to go to a loving, if a bit austere, grandmother who takes in foster children anyway. In Springdale, she meets chatty Josie, already in high school and seemingly the dominant one in the blur of foster children. If Gusta is to thrive in this strange new setting, it'll be by virtue of her spirit—and perhaps her beloved French horn, which she plays with considerable talent. She, Josie, and a cousin, Bess, create their own small band. This leads, almost inevitably, to an unexpected clash with a wealthy mill owner, whose secret connection with Gusta's aunt Marion threatens to derail Gusta in this immersive, character-driven tale. She's believably caught between her desire to do what's right, fighting back against growing prejudice against foreigners and unfair treatment of workers, and her need for comfort and security in an alien, sometimes-threatening new environment. Although the characters are white, this effort nicely captures the myriad faces of prejudice.Sometimes suspenseful and always engaging, this snapshot of determined Gusta and life before the war is sure to captivate readers. (Historical fiction. 11-14)
Publishers Weekly
In this uplifting, multifaceted historical novel set in 1941, Nesbet (Cloud and Wallfish) creates an arrestingly strong and sympathetic character in nearsighted 11-year-old Augusta -Gusta- Hoopes Neubronner. Financial strains force Gusta to leave her parents and New York City for her grandmother-s home in Springdale, Maine, where the townsfolk are wary of anyone different-especially someone with an unusual name or unusual talent, both of which Gusta, a passionate French horn player, possesses. Gusta is surprised by much in Springdale (including that her grandmother runs an orphanage), though nothing is more astonishing than her German-born union organizer father-s sudden disappearance during their bus trip to Maine and the men who subsequently board the bus searching for -fugitive- August Neubronner. Buoyed by memories of his encouraging words (-In war and struggle, we do what we must!-), Gusta adjusts to her new life, instinctively standing up for what she believes is right. Nesbet deftly weaves disparate elements-music, orphans, labor unions, carrier pigeons, and a magic wish-into a richly developed story set during a pivotal era in American history. Ages 10-14. Agent: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary. (Apr.)

School Library Journal
Gr 46 Gusta Neubronner arrives at her grandmother Hoopes's house in Springdale, ME, with a suitcase, a letter from her mother, and her French horn. Her pro-union father left her at the bus station while fleeing government agents. The anxieties of 1941 plague Gusta in her temporary home. School children mock her poor vision which oculist Mr. Bertmann corrects in exchange for Gusta's help with his carrier pigeons. Xenophobia and poverty threaten the orphans Gramma Hoopes shelters even as Gusta, orphan Josie, and cousin Bess form a band of female solidarity. As troubles mount, Gusta seeks her great grandfather's legendary wishing coin. Images of small-town Maine in a swiftly changing era fill Nesbet's story with a warm coziness, despite Gusta's struggles. Magical forest walks, collecting and cleaning eggs for sale, and visits to the family graveyard make Springdale seem like Brigadoon. The startling change Gusta experiences when she can see objects around her helps readers view every detail of Springdale with Gusta's newfound clarity. The dialogue is catchy, and Gusta's internal monologues share her tremendous curiosity and friendliness with readers. This is a good pairing for Kimberly Brubaker Bradley's The War that Saved My Life , both for the time period and its sense of pathos. At some points, one does feel Nesbet juggles too many topicsa small-town scandal, unionization, immigration, poverty, and school squabbles. Each one could use a bit more attention. VERDICT Solid historical fiction with a memorable heroine. Caitlin Augusta, Stratford Library Association, CT
Word Count: 83,464
Reading Level: 6.0
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 6.0 / points: 13.0 / quiz: 194159 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:5.7 / points:20.0 / quiz:Q73244
Lexile: 880L
Guided Reading Level: X
Fountas & Pinnell: X

With the United States on the verge of World War II, eleven-year-old Gusta is sent from New York City to Maine, where she discovers small-town prejudices — and a huge family secret.

It’s 1941, and tensions are rising in the United States as the Second World War rages in Europe. Eleven-year-old Gusta’s life, like the world around her, is about to change. Her father, a foreign-born labor organizer, has had to flee the country, and Gusta has been sent to live in an orphanage run by her grandmother. Nearsighted, snaggletoothed Gusta arrives in Springdale, Maine, lugging her one precious possession: a beloved old French horn, her sole memento of her father. But in a family that’s long on troubles and short on money, how can a girl hang on to something so valuable and yet so useless when Gusta’s mill-worker uncle needs surgery to fix his mangled hand, with no union to help him pay? Inspired by her mother’s fanciful stories, Gusta secretly hopes to find the coin-like “Wish” that her sea-captain grandfather supposedly left hidden somewhere. Meanwhile, even as Gusta gets to know the rambunctious orphans at the home, she feels like an outsider at her new school — and finds herself facing patriotism turned to prejudice, alien registration drives, and a family secret likely to turn the small town upside down.

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