The Orphan Band of Springdale
Super enjoyable and sweet but way better than just "sweet." This book has a kind of Eleanor Estes or Penderwicks feel sometimes centering on the pursuits and cares of children in a small town, but it's the early 1940s, so the stakes are way higher than Ginger Pye.
Xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment are on the rise, big business is fighting against a labor organization, and Gusta's dad is on the run from the law. There is plenty of goodwill and kindness to stand up against the world's real darkness, and the characters are great and genuine. There are a lot of topics explored here, but the one that especially resonated with me was the idea of being "other." Otherness is explored a lot within this story; Gusta arrives at a city she's never been to, lives with the family she's never met, and has to try to fit into this new life, even though it's entirely different from the one she left.
There's also hatred towards immigrants and those who seem different. Sadly, this idea of not fitting in is something that I think will resonate with anyone at any time, at any age. The animosity towards immigrants also rang all too true for today's time. However, it was nice to see it handled in a way that showed the shortsightedness of those making snap judgments. I could talk about this book forever.
I love the idea of a great-grandfather leaving a magical wish and Gusta's sincere belief that if she finds it, she could fix everything; I love the friendships Gusta makes and their love for music; I like the idea of justice and fairness that pervades the children thinking in this story. Everything about this book is lovely. It's incredibly detailed, and I felt as if I were teleported right back into 1941 and living there right along with Gusta. I am excitedly looking forward to Nesbet's future books because she's going to be a household name if she keeps writing. Put this book in your classrooms, add it to your curriculum, put it in your libraries, and buy it for the children in your life. It's magical and charming and everything to love about middle grade stories.
Release Date- April 10, 2018