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Joshua's Song (Aladdin Historical Fiction) [Kindle Edition]

Joan Hiatt Harlow
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Boston, 1919. It’s been a terrible year for thirteen-year-old Joshua Harper. The influenza pandemic that’s sweeping the world has claimed his father’s life; his voice has changed, so he can’t sing in the Boston Boys’ Choir anymore; and now money is tight, so he must quit school to get a job. It’s not fair!

Joshua begins working as a newspaper boy, hawking papers on the street, but he soon finds himself competing with Charlestown Charlie, a tough, streetwise boy who does not make things easier for Joshua. It seems that fitting in is not as easy as it once was. Then disaster strikes the city of Boston. Joshua must do what he can to help, and in doing so he finds the place—and the voice—that he thought he’d lost.

This remarkable novel is fast-paced, suspenseful, and based on true incidents in Boston history.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Harlow's (Star in the Storm) novel, set in 1919 Boston, touches on some tough issues, including child labor, death and the Great Molasses Flood (due to the explosion of a molasses tank). After the death of 13-year-old Joshua's father, his Boston Brahmin mother takes in boarders (whom Josh has to call aunt and uncle to throw off the neighbors), and the boy must quit school to help earn money. Newsboy kingpin Charlestown Charlie (a tough Irish immigrant) presses Josh into service as a "newsie," and Josh is also hired to sneak story leads to their boarder, "uncle" Marc Muggeridge, an editor for the Boston Traveler. Though the author stacks the odds against Josh, the conflicts tend to fizzle. For example, Mr. Muggeridge feeds Josh the idea that he should buy his own papers rather than work for Charlie and then offers to fight Josh's battle for him. Likewise the picture of rough-and-tumble street life seems fairly tame. The titular song refers to the loss of the hero's famous soprano voice (a talent that makes him known even to the mayor) and his refusal to sing even at his father's funeral until he shares his gift to help a victim of the molasses flood. Despite colorful details based on actual events, the novel's ending wraps everything up a bit too neatly. Ages 9-12.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Gr 4-6-A fast-paced novel with a likable main character. World War I has ended and the influenza epidemic has taken Joshua's father. His mother, formerly one of Boston's elite, is struggling to make ends meet because of her husband's debts. She takes in boarders whom her son must call "uncle" and "aunt" so the neighbors don't know she's running a boarding house, and Joshua must give up his private school and find work. Harlow quickly sets up this background, then begins the boy's adventures the day he becomes a newsboy. The plot moves swiftly as he falls in with Charlestown Charlie, who oversees the newsboys in downtown Boston; meets a reporter who will pay for the stories Joshua can bring him; and learns about the darker side of city life when he meets a girl who sells papers to help her sick mother. The climax of the story is based on the Molasses Flood of 1919, when a huge tanker full of molasses exploded in Boston's North End, killing 21 people. The conclusion is somewhat pat; Joshua's mother sells property and is no longer poor. One hopes that the boy won't forget his friends or the lessons he's learned. Harlow skillfully integrates historical fact to make a colorful setting believable. An afterword gives other interesting details. A worthwhile title for historical-fiction collections.

Sally Bates Goodroe, formerly at Harris County Public Library, Houston, TX

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 459 KB
  • Print Length: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books; Reprint edition (July 23, 2013)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009NHC2W0
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #331,409 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Touched my heartstrings September 8, 2004
I have just finished reading Joshua's Song. This is truly one of the best - more likely THE BEST book I've read in a long time. The innocence and goodness of Joshua in this story impressed me tremendously. I loved how he struggled to help his dying companion, and in his 13-year-old inexperience and fear, sang that beautiful and uplifting hymn to his Catholic friend. Obviously he struggled with the question "what should I do for her? How can I comfort her?" He couldn't bring a priest into the crumbling house, nor could he perform the last rites. The only gift he could give the dying woman was his song, which was lovely and strengthening for people of any religious background. (Who could find fault with The Good Shepherd?") When his friend, Charlie, said, "You did the right thing," it brought tears to my eyes.

From a literary standpoint, it was necessary to get Josh to sing again, and this maneuver worked beautifully.

This story rises above the ordinary. It excels with compassion and a strong character who makes difficult but wise choices. The historical background of 1919 during trying times will help today's kids identify and hopefully as they cheer for Joshua, they too will make decisions in their lives to "do the right thing."
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Joshua;s Song July 17, 2005
A Kid's Review
I just want to say this is the best book I have ever read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I liked this book because I thought it was exciting July 12, 2004
1919, Boston, Massachusetts. Life's been very hard lately for 13-year-old Joshua Harper. First and worst, he lost his father to the influenza epidemic. He also can't sing in the Boston Boys' Choir anymore because his voice has changed and now he will have to quit school to support his family. Not fair at all!
Joshua begins working for Charlestown Charlie, a mean and tough Irish boy. He also becomes a story hunter for Mr. Muggeridge, a new boarder at his house. Mr. Muggeridge wants to put street stories into the newspaper. Soon, though, Joshua runs into trouble with Charlestown Charlie and the Beacon Boys. Everything about his new existence on the street is in danger.
Joshua had a lot of courage and determination when he quit school and tried to find a job to help his family. I also thought he had a lot of bravery because he tried to save a woman's life when a terrible explosion occurred. If I would have been Joshua, I would have done the same things he did, but I would have tried to find a way to get the rest of my education.
I liked this book because I thought it was exciting --- I never knew what was going to happen next! How does Joshua come to find his voice, his song, and his place in the new world during a terrible crisis? Read this book to find out!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars joshua song entry December 2, 2004
A Kid's Review
I think the reason liked Joshuas song because the characters were so ralistic.

And at all times the story seemed like it was going one way or another.

Other than that the book is very well written.

This book also draws you in with its fantastic name and role playing.

Personaly its one of the best books iv,e ever read.

The book Joshuas song is also very origanal whith how the story is written.

One a scale of one threw ten I would give it an eight.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Awesome Book By Joan Haitt Harlow!!!! May 14, 2007
A Kid's Review
Joshua's Song by Joan Hiatt Harlow was a wonderful book! Joshua's Song was about a boy named Joshua and he had to drop out of the Boston Boys' Choir to get a job to help his family. He found a job as a news paper boy. He was hiding the idea that he was a news paper boy from his mother cause he thought she would be ashamed. Joshua's Song is a historical fiction book for 5 graders and up! I would highly recommend this book!

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully-written page-turner April 12, 2002
Joshua's Song is an awesome combination of beautiful writing, fascinating historical information, and a suspensful story that will keep the reader turning the pages right up until the breath-taking ending. The characters are all well-drawn and believable, the plot is exciting, and the historical accuracy is impeccable. Youngsters will love this book, and even adults will find themselves caught up in Joshua's life.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Cooper's Song By Cooper Leibow October 30, 2005
A Kid's Review
Joshua's Song is another touching classic book by John Haitt Harlow.

Josh is having a very tough time. He becomes a newspaper boy. He later becomes a hero. What did he do?

This book was very touching. Josh is a brave kid with a big heart. He realizes what really matters in life.

Josh, of course, is my very favorite character. He seems to be the most miture of all the other newspaper boys. He was only doing the job for money needed by his poor family. NOT for his own needs. He cared for everybody but himself. Thats how he became a hero.

My favorite passage form the book, odly enough, is the last page. "Then holding up a newspaper, Joshua inhaled deeply-and sang out the day's headlines." It is just such a strong sentence.

I would say that this book is very touching if someone asked me. Josh does the hard things that many of us don't have the courage to do. He's put in the hardest of situations.

I have one question though. Is that really possible?

My strongest recomendation for the book; it was sooooooo touching.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a wonderful book! June 13, 2004
By A Customer
This is an excellent book! I would definitly recommend this book to a friend. I would also definitly also read it again! I really enjoyed this book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book and my daughter couldn't put it down!
Published 29 days ago by Skis11
5.0 out of 5 stars The power of Joshua's song can change the world and you.
This was a very emotional and interesting book. It was an emotional adventure for Joshua. There was nothing I disliked about the book. Read more
Published 5 months ago by christian Vazquez
5.0 out of 5 stars Short but powerful!
Joshua's Song by Joan Hiatt Harlow is the story about a young boy named Joshua who lived in the Boston area in 1916 and was noted for his wonderful voice. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Adele P. Forcinelli
3.0 out of 5 stars Hard Times
This story was a emotional one. But I'm not saying it was something you should fear reading. It's about a 13 year old boy named Joshua Harper,and he has an amazing voice,but then... Read more
Published 7 months ago by A. Scanlon
5.0 out of 5 stars HOLY COW!!!!!
Excellent book! Bravo! A Must read! If you want to read a good book, this is the right one. One of the best books I have ever read!
Published 9 months ago by Debi Enright
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book,easy reading.
great story,enjoyed the book,sorry it was such a short story. Very easy to relate to what we call bullying today and how it can change with unbelievable deeds.
Published 9 months ago by paige hickman
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, adventure story!
It was exciting, I loved it. The characters and heroism was fabulous! A really short read and I have found a new author!
Published 13 months ago by Elaine L. Jancosko
5.0 out of 5 stars Spectacular and Heroic
Love this book so far the best books I've ever read. A tragic ending but a very lovely story. Love IT
Published 16 months ago by Marina Simur
5.0 out of 5 stars Joshua's Song
My son really enjoyed this book. It was one of his summer reading books. He was so excited when recapping me on this story.
Published 17 months ago by Yakki7
5.0 out of 5 stars Joshua song
This book deserved 5 stars . Because it seems so real. Like your in the book.I word recommend this book to who likes to get information In a fun way!
Published 18 months ago by Amazon Customer
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More About the Author

Joan Hiatt Harlow's books have won awards from ASPCA,DISNEY ADVENTURES,FLORIDA STATE BOOK AWARD; PARENTS CHOICE SEALS, CT. NUTMEG AWARD. Joan is now writing a second WWII Novel, to be published in 2014. See all Joan's books on and

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