cover image Mendel's Accordion

Mendel's Accordion

Heidi Smith Hyde, , illus. by Johanna van der Sterre. . Kar-Ben, $16.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-58013-214-5

With a steady rhythm and a tone that fittingly hits joyous and sad notes, Hyde traces how klezmer music arrived in America, via the hearts and souls of Jewish immigrants largely from Eastern Europe. Mendel enjoyed a simple life in the tiny village of Melnitze, playing his accordion with his band, the klezmorim, at weddings and other functions. But when hardship struck Melnitze and surrounding regions, Mendel set sail for America with his accordion in tow. On board the ship he met other musicians and formed a new band and, simultaneously, a group of friends to settle with on New York's Lower East Side. Years later, Mendel's great-grandson finds the dusty accordion in an attic and carries on the family tradition. Van der Sterre's crisply composed watercolors offer some cozy Old World details and set the stage in a New York City of an earlier century. Her friendly faced characters help bring an entertaining piece of history alive for young readers. Endnotes about klezmer music and the accordion are included. Ages 5-9. (Mar.)