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The Banjo Player Hardcover – August 1, 1993

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-8-- As the Orphan Train heads south, carrying New York City children to new homes and new lives, Jonathan wonders what will become of him. A plucky, streetwise kid, he finds himself adopted by the Tildens, a stolid farm couple in need of extra workers. He adapts there well enough but longs for the excitement of a big city. Then he learns that Ray, an old pal from the Orphan Train, is living in New Orleans. Through a slightly improbable plot twist, he is able to trade places with Ray, who prefers farm life. In New Orleans, Jonathan perfects his skills as a banjo player and becomes a street performer; eventually he gets a job on a showboat on the Mississippi. The next three years of his life are compressed into a few short closing chapters in which he knows he will fulfill his dream of returning to New York. Jonathan and his friends seem to get along much better than Joan Lowry Nixon's characters in the popular "Orphan Train Quartet" (Bantam), suffering fewer hardships and fitting into their new lives with relative ease. This makes the story less realistic, but nonetheless enjoyable. Jonathan is a good, kind boy with a strong sense of who he is despite his unfortunate childhood. Everything repeatedly works out for the best, making the story almost too good to be true. However, the book makes for upbeat reading and provides plenty of colorful details about the late 1800s in New Orleans and its vicinity. From the farm to life on the river, readers will follow Jonathan's exploits with pleasure. --Bruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro, NC
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Juvenile; 1st edition (August 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670849677
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670849673
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 20 x 20 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,143,815 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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