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Joshua's Song Paperback – April 1, 2003

31 customer reviews

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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.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 6
  • Series: Aladdin Historical Fiction
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books; Reprint edition (April 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689855427
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689855429
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.4 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #117,986 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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 Amazon.com and www.joanhiattharlow.com

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Reviewer and Teacher on September 8, 2004
Format: Paperback
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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on July 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
I just want to say this is the best book I have ever read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By KidsReads on July 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
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 A Kid's Review on December 2, 2004
Format: Paperback
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 A Kid's Review on May 14, 2007
Format: Paperback
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 By childwrite on April 12, 2002
Format: Hardcover
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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A Kid's Review on October 30, 2005
Format: Paperback
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 By A Customer on June 13, 2004
Format: Paperback
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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