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A String In The Harp
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A String In The Harp

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  1,415 Ratings  ·  132 Reviews
A family in ancient bard...a harp key that brings them together... When fifteen-year-old Jen Morgan flies to Wales to spend Christmas with her family, she's not expecting much from the holiday. A year after her mother's sudden death, her father seems preoccupied by the teaching job that has brought him and Jen's younger siblings to Wales for the year. Her bro ...more
Published June 1st 2007 by Aladdin Paperbacks (first published 1976)
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A String in the Harp by Nancy Bond is one of those novels I love so much it almost hurts. It concerns the Morgan family – Jen, Peter and Becky - who, after their mother is killed in car crash, move from Massachusetts to Wales. Still reeling from the blow, the family is falling apart. Peter, in particular, is homesick, bitter, overwhelmed with anger and misery. The portrait of his alienation and isolation is very well done.

Peter finds a mysterious artifact washed up on the beach, a harp key, and
Feb 12, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: youth-literature
I picked this one up in my meanderings through past Newbery Award and Newbery Honor winners. I'm beginning to think that the main criteria for Newbery's is that they include children dealing with some difficult emotional trauma. This one has three children who have recently lost their mother in a car accident. It is very well-written. I was impressed with the writing to begin with and thought it had hope as a story. I feel that the story fell flat and the struggles of the children in the family ...more
Kevin Xu
This book is about the aftermath of 3 siblings when their mom dies, and 2 of them has to stay with their dad in Ireland, while the oldest stays back to live with their aunt and uncle in New England, but then reunite for the holidays at their dad's house. During the holidays, one of the siblings find a mysterious object that allows myth and history to be seen.

This book is not so great because I felt there was no conflict within the book, and what was there was made up in order to fill the void o
Jun 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While searching the bookshelves of my librarian daughter for a book to read I came across the 1976 Newberry Honor Award Winner, "A String in the Harp." In this book, we find a family torn apart emotionally and physically after the death of the mother. Hoping a change of scenery will help the family heal David, the father, accepts a position as a professor at a University in Wales moving his young family across the ocean. Peter, the middle child who is having the most difficult time adapting to W ...more
Feb 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ahh, I had SO much fun reading this book! It was like a long vacation in Susan Cooper's Wales.

So, I got this one at a garage sale because it was a Newberry Honor book. It's high Welsh fantasy in the vein of Susan Cooper's The Grey King and Silver on the Tree (two of my favorite favorites) and deals with a lot of the same mythology. I relished every word of the book like a long refreshing vacation in a favorite place.

The magical element in this book is much more understated than in a Susan Cooper
Oct 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book and found myself bitterly regretting not having read it when I was 12. It is the perfect book for the 12-year-old me, but it was also pretty great for the 44-year-old me. Bond weaves her version of Taliesin the Bard's story with the story of 3 modern kids trying to come to grips with their mother's death and their move to Wales from the US. One of the kids finds the key to Taliesin's harp and is granted the ability to see the story of the bard's life. Juxtaposed with these othe ...more
Greg Fishbone
I read this 1977 Newbery Honor Book shortly after Enchantress from the Stars and found myself wondering why the Newbery Committees hate mothers so much. Surely anybody's who's looked into the "dead mother book" phenomenon can attest to the fact that the mothers of Newbery book protagonists have an amazingly short life expectancy and a high tendency to die even before the first chapter starts. Likewise the stars of most Disney animated films and every fairytale character with an evil stepmother. ...more
May 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was one of those books that made me smile to finish it... and then sigh, because I'd made several friends within these pages, and now they're leaving to return to the magical, homey lands of the public library.

I was impressed with how well Nancy Bond fit her writing style to the place and time of her story - the briny, antique freshness of Wales lent a poetic lilt to an engaging, somewhat fantastical story. It's stories like these that leave me with a curious sense of wistful satisfaction
Sep 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I tried to read A String in the Harp a few years ago and couldn't make it past the first few pages. This could be a boring book if you're not used to reading long, mostly non-action books. However, I came back and read this book recently. The writing is very good, and I enjoyed the story. Now that I'm a bit older, I appreciated the book more. The story was very interesting but not outstanding. This book doesn't have a bang! to it. But the reason I rate this book a five is because I love stories ...more
Sep 22, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: wales, children-s-ya
As a new children's librarian, I read this when it first came out and loved it. This time around, I found it very slow. I was also taken aback that the 15-year-old daughter becomes the family housekeeper when she decides to stay in Wales after the holidays - this felt very dated. But the fantasy worked for me. I loved Peter's glimpses of the sixth century world. And I especially loved the descriptions of the Welsh countryside and the natural world - though it might not have been so enthralling i ...more
Greta Kimel
Jul 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, favorites
This is one of my favorite books. I read it every Christmas, and I've kept that tradition for about 10 years. I love the atmosphere of this book--the moody Welsh countryside feels so real. The characters are realistic and funny, and Nancy Bond writes in such a way that I feel the emotions of the characters. Love this book!
Dec 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautiful book.
Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If I ever get the opportunity to visit Wales, I'll be very disappointed if I don't get swept up into a magical adventure of some kind or another.

This was a very sedate book to read - which is a good thing. It's about an American family living in Wales, and the son finds an ancient harp key that (he eventually realizes) belonged to Taliesin. As the story progresses, he begins to see episodes of the legendary bard's life. But what will I most remember about the story? Life in the Welsh countryside
Aug 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, children-s
This book was unique in how the author wove the story of the sixth century Welsh bard Taliesin into a modern story of family problems and made everything come out all right. I was confused at times as to what was going on, but it seemed that the characters in the book were puzzled, too, until the end.
Thomas Bell
Well, it's hard to say why I gave it a full three stars. I guess it was because I did find the story interesting, though it sure dragged on through the middle 200 pages of it.

And yes, it dragged on. The book was full of fluff, but I think it was purposeful. Lots of over-the-top descriptions of everything. I believe the author had two goals in the story, and the first was to try to give off an aura of what she feels Wales is like. She was VERY descriptive, and whether or not it was Wales I was fe
Debbie Gascoyne
This is one of my all-time favourite books, and I'm thrilled that the "Harry Potter Effect," as I call it, has resulted in this being reissued and available to new readers. For years, I wanted to study at University of Wales, Aberystwyth, inspired by the landscape of this story (and Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising sequence, the Welsh episodes of which take place in the same area), and it's kind of fitting that I'm currently researching and writing a PhD dissertation at Cardiff!

This novel is notabl
Bish Denham
This book was written nearly 40 years ago and I have taken that into consideration. Still the omniscient POV kept me from truly connecting with any of the characters. I desperately wanted the story to be told from Peter's and the bard, Taliesin's, point of view. I wanted to learn more about Taliesin and to get more of a feel for his life and times. As it was I felt a bit cheated.

Of the characters, I liked Becky the best. She was given very little POV time, yet her personality came through loud a
Feb 11, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
Clueless as to how this earned a Newbery Honor back in 1977. It had so much potential to flesh out into a good story. Sigh.

What I liked: set in Wales, referenced Taliesen-- a 6th century bard (

what I didn't like: the flaky father who was clueless about parenting and his kids called him David (not Dad), that it straddled reality and fantasy but as with oil and water the two would not blend, the belligerent son who sullenly punished his father the first half o
Stephanie Middleton
Oh my, what to say about this book? I think perhaps the members of the Newbery committee were smoking crack the year they awarded this a notable "Honor." It's not that it was awful - from a middle aged woman's perspective at least. It's just that it's one of those dry, slow, and very, very dull stories that teachers assign to kids in school, ensuring that they grow up to hate reading and groan the next time they're forced to pick up a book.

That being said, I happened to almost enjoy the long ran
Austen to Zafón
Although this book as a fantasy/time travel element, the real story is about how we make a new place home and how we adjust to change and loss. Three siblings and their father move from the US to Wales after the death of the mother. None of them are too happy about having left their friends and familiar surroundings behind, especially as Wales is cold, windy, and desolate. The son has a particularly hard time and there is some conflict between him and his father. The story chronicles a family co ...more
Feb 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was re-reading this book as I read it before in my tweens. Still a wonderful book. The dad still comes across as a bit of a jerk. Even as a parent now I think he had more of an obligation to keep in better touch with his kids and to be a bit more sympathetic after their mother died. Also, the idea that a 15 yr is going to take over the running of a house is a bit far-fetched.

Still, enjoyable. It is the book that made me want to visit Wales and then England in general--which I did with my mom
Sep 18, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A slow...very suuhlow....start, but incredibly atmospheric merging of fantasy and reality. Characterization is well-handled as the children struggle to adjust to Wales and the mythic realities of that land.
Suzzy Jims
This book is so boring!!!! Like nothing happens! And the fancy shouldn't even be there ! The story line well what story line!
Jul 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A compelling read.
Susan Phelan
I couldn't get into it at all. Omniscient viewpoint. I didn't care about the characters or what was happening to them.
Brenda Christensen
This was a pretty good story, but slow. I think it needed some editing. The author often repeated details or conversations that the reader had already heard (sometimes more than once). I liked the characters and felt that their interactions were authentic for the most part. I wish that Peter's experiences with the harp key had developed a little more quickly and weren't so spread out. It was a bit confusing. I enjoyed the setting and could tell the author knew her Welsh geography, customs, and h ...more
Jul 10, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great reader, elements of story so dated ... each character must swear one time, and mother and father are referred to by first names. Still, magical Welsh mythology made it worthwhile!
Shanna Gonzalez
Jun 09, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-08-12
In this modern-to-medievel time-travel fantasy, a family of three children and their father go to live in Wales for the winter, grieving the loss of their wife and mother. Twelve-year-old Peter finds a key that opens a portal into ancient Wales, and he and his sisters must resist a rising threat when knowledge of the key spreads to those who wish to misuse it.

The book is recommended by several good sources and is well written, with good character development and a sustained sense of magic lurkin
Dec 23, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Is A String in the Harp... historical fiction? fantasy? family drama? I suppose that it could be labeled a work of all three of those genres, plus multicultural lit, mystery and possibly even suspense. For a debut author, Nancy Bond does well in morphing the varied story elements into a cohesive narrative that should keep one's attention, while at the same time providing an excellent introductory education on the subject of ancient and contemporary life in Wales.

After the death of their mothe
Sep 13, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newbery-honor
Would have been three stars if not for the fact that it was long and repetitive. The plot and idea behind the story were interesting but the story became predictable in the first hundred pages.

"Looking back on that Christmas, Jen discovered little of it was clear. It had become a disordered muddle of isolated moments, the sight of the family car hideously flattened, the heavy, waxen lilies in the chapel, shaking hands endlessly and listening to people say "I'm so sorry..." Bewilderment, hurt. B
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Children's writer Nancy (Barbara) Bond was born in Maryland and was raised in the United Kingdom and Massachusetts. She received her B.A. in English Literature from Mount Holyoke College in 1966 and a graduate degree from the College of Librarianship in Wales in 1972. She taught at the Simmons College Center for the Study of Children's Literature from 1979 to 2001.

In 1977 Bond received the Newbery
More about Nancy Bond...