The Banjo Player: 9

Elizabeth Starr Hill, Author Viking Children's Books $14.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-670-84967-3
A prequel to Broadway Chances and The Street Dancers , which focused on Clement Dale, the patriarch of a show business family, this uneven novel begins in 1887 and focuses on 12-year-old Jonathan, eventually Clement's plucky grandfather. Abandoned as an infant by an impoverished mother, Jonathan has been adopted by the abusive Dales. Having run away and scraped by as a New York City street performer, he's now heading for Louisiana on the Orphan Train. Like the other homeless children traveling with him, he hopes that a kindly family will want him. Even though series fans know all along that Jonathan will prevail, he has spunk enough to hold the reader's attention. In a brief afterword, the author reports that the Orphan Trains actually existed and transported more than 100,000 children between 1854 and 1929; she also explains how such a system of adoption evolved. However engaging the hero and however noteworthy the historical context, the story wrought from these elements is slow-moving, paling beside its two companion novels. Ages 10-14. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/02/1993
Release date: 08/01/1993
Genre: Children's
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