**spoiler alert** It is Memorial Day, a fitting day to review Echo. Echo blends three stories into one. Each story is a traditional hero story, with e**spoiler alert** It is Memorial Day, a fitting day to review Echo. Echo blends three stories into one. Each story is a traditional hero story, with each child overcoming prejudice and adversity. The three stories a tied together by a fairytale like curse, a magical harmonica, and music. The period of time is pre-World War II and World War II, a time period in which it is relatively easy to set a good versus evil story.
What was refreshing about this book was how Munoz Ryan focused on less discussed elements of history, stories that young people may not know. In the first story, Frederick faced sterialization or death because of a birth mark. His father was taken away because of his support of a Jewish friend. While students may know of the plight of the Jews in WW II, they may not know the full extent of Hitler's atrocities.
The second story focuses on the impact of the Great Depression in the United States. Two brothers try to stay together. The oldest one faces being farmed out as a child laborer and the younger one faces being sent to a place similar to a penal colony. The evils of indifference and corruption are contrasted with involvement, caring, and goodness.
In the final story, prejudice at home during WW II is explored. Ivy, a young Hispanic girl whose brother is serving in WW II faces discrimination at home. Her family cares for the property of a Japanese family while they are interned. A neighboring white man struggles with his feelings regarding the Japanese family when his son is killed at Pearl Harbor. This story does a good job of exploring how decisions like the internment of the Japanese were based on fear and emotion. It could easily lead to conversations about what causes countries to make choices like segregation and internment.
Some of the criticisms of the book have been that the stories are too trite. Adults are familiar with this material, but I think that most kids are not, so I believe the tales will not be seen as simplistic to their target audience. The book is written as a modern day fairytale, and as such, it does a good job. We know it is a fairytale from the start and therefore, it is no great surprise when Munoz Ryan delivers the happy ending.
Although it is a bit long, this is a great choice for upper elementary book clubs and read-a-louds. Parents will enjoy reading this book alongside their children. Homeschool parents may wish to incorporate this into a lesson on the history of the early 1900's. It won't surprise me if this book wins one of the top children's literature awards for books published in 2015. ...more
The author wrote this story to explain to his own daughters why they should not fear people just because they are different. The little girl is reassuThe author wrote this story to explain to his own daughters why they should not fear people just because they are different. The little girl is reassured by her dad that he will protect her. Once assured of her safety, she can consider the monster's point of view. She realizes that the monster has the same fears connection is created. A great story that could be used by teachers and parents to open conversation in many conflict situations. ...more
A moving and beautiful picture book with no words. I find clowns to be creepy sometimes but this is not the case in this simple story of an old farmerA moving and beautiful picture book with no words. I find clowns to be creepy sometimes but this is not the case in this simple story of an old farmer who cares for a stranded young clown....more