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The Orphan Band of Springdale

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With the United States on the verge of World War II, eleven-year-old Gusta is sent from New York City to Maine, where she discovers small-town prejudices — and a huge family secret.

It’s 1941, and tensions are rising in the United States as the Second World War rages in Europe. Eleven-year-old Gusta’s life, like the world around her, is about to change. Her father, a foreign-born labor organizer, has had to flee the country, and Gusta has been sent to live in an orphanage run by her grandmother. Nearsighted, snaggletoothed Gusta arrives in Springdale, Maine, lugging her one precious possession: a beloved old French horn, her sole memento of her father. But in a family that’s long on troubles and short on money, how can a girl hang on to something so valuable and yet so useless when Gusta’s mill-worker uncle needs surgery to fix his mangled hand, with no union to help him pay? Inspired by her mother’s fanciful stories, Gusta secretly hopes to find the coin-like “Wish” that her sea-captain grandfather supposedly left hidden somewhere. Meanwhile, even as Gusta gets to know the rambunctious orphans at the home, she feels like an outsider at her new school — and finds herself facing patriotism turned to prejudice, alien registration drives, and a family secret likely to turn the small town upside down.

448 pages, Hardcover

First published April 10, 2018

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Anne Nesbet

8 books115 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 164 reviews
Profile Image for [S] Bibliophage.
950 reviews859 followers
August 20, 2018
The Orphan Band of Springdale is a middle-grade fiction novel that was narrated through the lead protagonist, Augusta “Gusta” Neubronner, an eleven-year-old from New York who was sent by her parents to her grandmother in Elm Street, Springdale, Maine. Her father was supposed to accompany her on the journey, but he suddenly vanished when they were on a bus in Portland. Gusta’s father is a labor organizer, thus the authorities were trying to capture him. Aside from this, his father is from a German descent and the story was set in the year 1941 when the Second World War was happening at that time.

While Gusta’s father was trying to avoid being arrested, her mother was left in New York because of work. Hence, there was no choice for her parents but to send Gusta to her grandmother who has an orphanage in Maine. While in town, she got acquainted with her mother’s siblings Aunt Marion and Uncle Charlie Goodman, and his daughter Bess. She also became friends with Josie, the first orphan who arrived in the orphanage. Her friendship with Josie and Bess has led for the coming up with the idea of forming a band because they want to join the county fair contest for Blue-Ribbon Band that summer.

Aside from Gusta’s fun experiences while she’s in her grandmother’s hometown, she also got herself into distressing situations. She and Bess also accidentally discovered their family’s secret while trying to resolve their problem with Bess’ father, Uncle Charlie. Her nationality was also being questioned due to her surname, and because of who is the father is.

The novel is intended for middle graders; however, I reckon that it will be more appealing to young adults and even older readers. The Orphan Band of Springdale is a really captivating fiction that will be appreciated by anyone; so if you have time to check out this book, don’t miss the chance to read it and you will not be disappointed.
Profile Image for Lisa Vegan.
2,802 reviews1,234 followers
July 15, 2021
This book has an engaging story and main character. Most of the characters are well drawn and three dimensional. I can think of only one exception and that is a villainous character and the reader is not shown another (better) side to them.

One quibble: someone who’s always had poor eyesight would not describe things as looking blurry. To them things would just be the way things looked and would seem normal if they’d never had corrective lenses or know that they needed them.

This author writes really well done young characters.

I think I got a fine feel for 1941 small town Maine.

The story does tackle some extremely serious issues and they’re not dumbed down but somehow they are presented in a way appropriate for young readers.

I was surprised at how much work/chores all the kids had to do and how little time they had for reading and recreation of various sorts, although they did have some time for pleasurable pursuits.

Some quotes that I liked:

“When the storm is coming, we must quickly find out who we are: who we are in the light of trouble.”

“Fear is such a strange thing. Fear hides in crevices in our brain, just waiting for a chance someday to leap up and grab us and make us want to leave our skins and run away.”

“She couldn’t help feeling that she had just narrowly dodged becoming a much worse sort of person than she wanted to be.”

“Some part of Gusta’s drowned and damaged heart mended a little at that moment. It makes a difference, having a friend willing to come into danger with you, just so you don’t have to be all alone. Her father used to use a big word for it: solidarity.”

“…made her heart tear into messy little pieces.”

4-1/2 stars

A friend pointed out that this author also wrote Cloud and Wallfish, another 4-1/2 star book I really liked. I liked this book even better than that one.

I was incredibly touched by these characters and this story. At times it was like a punch to the gut. It was when I got to the author’s note that I realized why everything felt so emotional and so real. The Acknowledgments section also revealed
Profile Image for Hilary .
2,264 reviews404 followers
June 25, 2020
3.75 stars

I had high expectations for this book, after reading Cloud and Wallfish by this author I was expecting something good. This started as a five star read, slowed in the middle to a 3 star and picked up towards the end. The author's end note was lovely.

Augusta Newbronner finds herself at her Grandmother's home for orphans, her mother is working away and . Her father is what would be called a trade unionist in the UK, there's probably a US name for this. We learnt yet more US terms for English words, we laughed when someone described themselves as being on a teeter totter and had to stop reading to Google what on earth that could be, it transpired it is a seesaw, you learn something new every day.

We enjoyed these characters and the interweaving storylines. It felt some were added on, lots about something for a while and you think it's going somewhere and then you don't hear about it for some time.

The optician's hobby seemed to play a portentous part from the start and then for most of the middle section of the book it doesn't seem mentioned. There were some things that left us puzzled, why didn't Gusta's mother write to her?

We loved the musical element and it was a pleasant surprise to find the musical details of this book well described and accurate. The ending was enjoyable but we would like to have

There were some lovely moments, ideas and elements to this story. We enjoyed being with these characters.
Profile Image for Beth.
1,158 reviews118 followers
January 26, 2022
I like this a lot. Let’s start there. It’s smart. It’s warm. It’s interesting. It’s even unique, in a way - it tackles situations unusual, I think, to middle grade fiction. Gusta is sent to her grandmother in Maine, and her grandmother runs an orphanage; her father is a labor organizer (a Communist, y’all) on the run from the law; both of them have German last names, and it’s 1941. This is an unusual mix, one I’ve never seen before.

And yet I read this wondering if I wasn’t having the experience other people had when they read The Wrinkled Crown. There’s just a LOT going on here - all the above, plus a French horn, a magic Wish, and quite the uncomfortable family situation. And folded in and around all this is a fabulous school story. But there’s so much going on that the novel feels uneven, almost unfocused. It tries to do too much.

If you follow the school story, it ties into the competing-dairies, school-band, and French-horn elements; if you follow the family drama, the mill-organizing, fleeing-father, Uncle Charlie, Josie, Wish, and orphan-band elements fold in; if you focus on the setting, the patriotism, last-name, and pigeon aspects have a clear place.

And of course, because this is a professionally plotted story, these elements intersect and inform each other and bleed together, and it becomes hard to say which individual elements are excessive. (Well, not for one of them. The Wish stuff is almost irrelevant.)

And while it says things, in the course of its many, many stories, with which I agree, I have a hard time accepting the speechifying on top of all the other things.

It’s just a LOT. I like all the characters! I like ambition! I don’t want less ambition - but I do want coherence and deliberation and direction. And I don’t feel that I got them here.
Profile Image for Jessica Lawson.
Author 6 books105 followers
February 19, 2018
If Anne Nesbet doesn't win a Newbery Medal or Honor in the next 3-4 years, I'll eat my hat.

The seamless characterization, the flawless voice, the fully-realized setting, the details (! oh, the details!), the history, the humor, the heart, the MAGIC (yes, I firmly believe in the magical wish in this book), the ...oh lord, I could go on and on.

Warning: The Author's Note might make you cry.
Profile Image for Aj Sterkel.
796 reviews33 followers
February 15, 2019
Likes: I adored this book. It’s well-written, and I appreciate the skill that went into crafting it. There are a lot of different threads in this story. The plot goes in a thousand directions, but the author manages to pull it all together in the end. I’m impressed. Since there’s so much going on, this novel could have easily become a confusing mess.

Even though this is historical fiction, it’s timely. It’s one of those historical books that demonstrate how history never dies. In the US, we’re still dealing with the same stupid garbage that we’ve always been dealing with. We’re still having conversations about who’s American and who deserves to be in this country. We’re still judging immigrants without knowing anything about their lives. This novel shows that you shouldn’t jump to conclusions about people. Just because a German man likes cameras and pigeons doesn’t mean he’s a spy.

The main character, Gusta, is a sweet, mature eleven-year-old. She’s quiet, but she’s brave. She has strong friendships and tries to let justice, love, and fairness guide her behavior, which makes her a compelling character to read about. Also, I could relate to her eyeball struggles. Even my eye doctor was shocked at how terrible my vision is. It was nice to read about a character who has the same problems as me.

If you read this book, don’t skip the author’s note at the end. It explains that this story was inspired by the author’s mother’s life. It’s interesting to learn about the real person behind the fiction.

Dislikes: Underdeveloped secondary characters. Gusta’s bully, Molly, is especially flat. I didn’t believe Molly’s sudden change in behavior. She spends 300+ pages being awful to Gusta (and everybody else), but then she changes her mind and decides to be nice. It’s nice that she’s not a jerk anymore, but why?

This novel is great for adults, but I think kids would struggle with it. It’s a big book, and it reads like a big book. The plot is plodding. There is a lot of exposition and not a lot of action. There are so many plotlines that it sometimes feels directionless. I think kids would get frustrated.

The Bottom Line: If you’re an adult (or a patient child) who loves well-written historical fiction, I recommend giving this one a try. I enjoyed it.

Do you like opinions, giveaways, and bookish nonsense? I have a blog for that.
Profile Image for Shelby M. (Read and Find Out).
604 reviews122 followers
March 17, 2022
I received a finished copy of this book for review from Candlewick Press. My Video Review

Oh my goodness... This book. I did not expect to love this as much as I did. This is some of the highest quality middle grade I have ever read. Gusta, the protagonist, was shy, sweet, and brave. I adored her. The themes that were explored were so well done, in a way that can connect with adults as well as middle grade readers. Themes include patriotism as a cover for prejudice, music, and the question of "Who is a real American?" I highly recommend this!
Profile Image for Jamie.
686 reviews56 followers
March 4, 2021
Actual rating: 4.25-4.5 stars
This was such a sweet story! Much more thoughtful & more contemplative than I think I would have enjoyed as a middle-grader, but as an adult who loves to read middle-grade, it really hit the spot! And it covers topics not often found in middlegrade novels, which I really appreciated and found interesting. This is about smalltown living when everyone knows your business, prejudice against those that appear "foreign" in the height of anti-Nazi & European nation mistrust in America in early 1941, explores ideas around wrongful termination and the creation of labor unions, has elements of music, and is a coming-of-age story and finding your own voice, and more importantly, how to use it! How's that for a roll up of this book? It has a little bit of everything and I absolutely adored it!
Profile Image for Alyssa Nelson.
516 reviews143 followers
April 12, 2018
*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

This is a heartwarming story about a young girl named Gusta who moves in with her grandmother and aunt because her father is in trouble and her mother doesn’t make enough to feed her. She finds herself not quite fitting in, having a very German name on the verge of World War II, needing glasses, and coming from a rather poor family. But, that doesn’t stop her from dreaming. Her great-grandfather was a captain and once found a treasure chest of wishes; the story goes that he had just one left before he died, and it was hidden in the house. She plans to find it to make the perfect wish that will save her father, her mother, her maimed uncle, and herself.

There are a lot of topics explored here, but the one that especially resonated with me was the idea of being “other.” Otherness is explored a lot within this story; Gusta arrives at a city she’s never been to, lives with family she’s never met, and has to try to fit into this new life, even though it’s quite different from the one she left. There’s also animosity towards immigrants and those who seem different. Sadly, this idea of not fitting in is something that I think will resonate with anyone at any time, who is any age. The animosity towards immigrants also rang all too true for today’s time. However, it was nice to see it handled in a way that showed the shortsightedness of those making snap judgments.

However, at the center is Gusta. This main character is so brave and strong and kind, I couldn’t help but love her and her story. I would have read about her for pages and pages doing just about anything because I so much enjoyed reading about her thought process and seeing her struggle with wanting to make everyone happy. She has to deal with some incredibly grown-up situations and make decisions that are hard for adults to make, and she does so with aplomb.

I could talk about this book forever. I love the idea of a great-grandfather leaving a magical wish, and Gusta’s wholehearted belief that if she finds it, she could fix everything; I love the friendships Gusta makes, and their love for music; I love the idea of justice and fairness that pervades the children’s thinking in this story. Everything about this book is lovely. It’s incredibly detailed, and I felt as if I were teleported right back into 1941 and living there right along with Gusta. I am excitedly looking forward to Nesbet’s future books, because she’s going to be a household name if she keeps writing. Put this book in your classrooms, add it to your curriculum, put it in your libraries, and buy it for the children in your life. It’s magical and charming and everything to love about middle grade.

Also posted on Purple People Readers.
Profile Image for Almira.
576 reviews2 followers
June 25, 2020
There are so many layers to this story, I am not sure where to start.

About half way through, I was really getting annoyed at all the adults in this story - to the point of "hating" her father who is a Fugitive, her mother for letting her be sent to Maine, with her Grumpy Grandmother, and the school officials who treated 11 year old Augusta (Gusta for short) Neubronner like she was contaminated, due to her German name from her father. Of course, this is in days preceding the United States being drawn into World War II - anyone with a German surname was definitely looked upon with great suspicion - even those who were American born.

Gusta is throw into a class with a "milk war" between two students of the local town, Molly and Georges (silent "s"), and when everyone in the class has to have their eyes examined, poor Gusta, being the new girl, is put first in line, and the "gig is up" regarding her poor eyesight. Oh dear!

The one and most endearing part of Gusta is her French horn, that she can play like a professional musician. Her French horn could bring her $100, which she would use to help her Uncle have surgery on his mangled hand, and at one point she loses the horn to the ruthless, heartless owner of the Mill in the town- with a nasty little secret. It was at this point, that I almost quit reading the book, but............

The author drew upon her mother's very own story of hardships during this time in world history for this book. In that light, all the pieces actually fit, and made sense. So IF you decide to read this, and find you are ready to give up, go ahead and read Anne's mother's story at the end of the book.
Profile Image for Vikki VanSickle.
Author 14 books203 followers
December 13, 2017
French horns, carrier pigeons and Dairy Wars! Colour me charmed! A sweet story about a girl who is sent to live with a grandmother she has yet to meet in Maine in the early 40s. Gusta's father may or may not be on the run for being a labor organizer, a secret Gusta keeps hidden as her classmates (and town in general) seems preoccupied with what it means to be a 'real' American and rooting out alien citizens in the shadow of the war in Europe. Sadly, this thread is resonant today. But Gusta makes friends with her cousin and fellow 'orphan' Josie and the girls form a band with hopes of winning a ribbon at the local fair. Lots here about family, community, and wonderful prose about hope and music. Nesbet has a lovely turn of phrase and there are memorable bits here, such as Josie's desire to prove that music is 'real as jam,' meaning music can win ribbons just like jam, which is considered more worthwhile. A great read for fans of The Penderwicks, The War That Saved My Life, and the All of a Kind Family.
Profile Image for Laura.
566 reviews94 followers
September 26, 2018
For the most part, I really enjoyed this middle grade novel. It had many wonderful components to it that I feel many readers will consider it a unique read. The characters are strong, sweet, and full of integrity that I really admired. There were moments of humor, touches of grace, and details that felt fresh. I was also impressed with the ease of weaving in historical details, that a middle grade child might have experienced in America during the early 1940's.
Although this was a charming novel, I did struggle with the pacing and length of the book. It felt drawn out and very slow at times. I think I wanted less subplots, and a stronger focus on the details regarding the central plot of the story. There just seemed to be a little too much going on.

Language: None
Sensitive subject:
Character discovers that she wasn't an orphan. She learns who her mother and father are and that she was result of a premarital affair.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for QNPoohBear.
3,100 reviews1,484 followers
May 28, 2018
Eleven-Year-Old Gusta Hoopes Neubronner has moved around a lot. From the mill towns of New England to New York City as her father, a union activist, rallies people to the cause. She's always had her parents by her side no matter where they went; quietly observing and absorbing their beliefs. Now her father has put her on a bus to Springdale, Maine to live with the grandmother she doesn't remember far from her mother still in New York trying to make ends meet. Gusta is comforted by the fact her Papa will come with her to explain everything but when he disappears, she is left alone clutching her prized possession- Papa's French Horn he brought from Germany long ago. Now Gusta is alone to face down a house full of orphans, a new school where children rarely see newcomers and compete for bragging rights about their family-owned dairies, the school's five-point health certificate competition, the Real Americans Club and family drama. Through it all Gusta tries to remain true to her family and herself but she harbors some big secrets and with America on the brink of war with Germany, those secrets could cost her family everything.

I loved this book! I had a hard time putting it down. I read long past the time I should have been asleep on a work night and finally put it down when I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore. I read it while waiting for the bus in the morning, while waiting for the bus home and finally finished it late at night. I really enjoyed the author's writing style. Some of her descriptive phrases are really unique and beautiful. She refrains from inserting too much insight and hitting home a message. Gusta's voice seems authentic for a precocious child who takes on the weight of the world. I did not like how Mr. Bertmann gets dropped halfway through the story only to reappear at the end. His story was wrapped up a lot more neatly than I expected. I also did not like the title of the novel. The girls call themselves "The Honorary Orphan Band" but I would title the book "Real as Jam" because the girls form the band to prove to Mrs. Hoopes/Grandma that music is as real as jam (meaning it can win a ribbon at the county fair). That phrase echoed throughout the novel and was important to the story though it was a bit unclear as to WHY Grandma dislikes music or whether it's just the music teacher she doesn't care for. The only other small issue I had with the novel is Gusta's obsession with unions and how too much of the story is taken up with Uncle Charlie's cause and not enough with the band. The plot could just use a little smoothing to make it all gel better.

Gusta is gutsy, sincere and loyal. I really liked her but I didn't understand why she felt it was her duty to pay for Uncle Charlie's operation if the mill owner wouldn't pay for it. What 11-year-old child thinks like that even during the Depression? She doesn't really seem aware that there is a global Depression just that times are tough for her family and the mill workers. I also loved Josie and how cheerfully she accepted her situation though not in a goody-goody way. I loved her fearlessness and can-do attitude. Extra special love to Josie for playing the ukulele! Younger niece has recently taken up the ukulele and I hope she'll read this book. She is a lot like Josie. Bess at first seemed a little too sweet and good to me but she's just shy and used to a tough life with an injured father and a harried stepmother. She knows she has to be quiet and good to not make the situation worse. Bess is a good complement to Gusta and Josie because she's so quiet and thoughtful while the other two just rush in without thinking.

Gusta's classmates are mostly non-entities except for two children, both of whom live on dairy farms and are constantly warring over whose is better. Molly Gowan annoyed the HECK out of me. Her REAL Americans Club really really got on my last nerve. I hope older kids can see the parallel to what the Nazis thought or Deatheaters if they don't know history yet! That kind of thinking is just so so dangerous. Anyway, none of the people in that town seem to be real immigrants even if their ancestors came over with the Mayflower or Winthrop Fleet. There were people here on the continent before then. How about a club that promotes unity and harmony in this time of uncertainty and difficulty? Young readers will hopefully see the connection between the immigrants of today and the immigrant characters in the novel like Gusta's Papa. Gusta's other classmate, Georges Thibodeau is adorably quirky. Today he would be labeled on the autism spectrum and have a classroom aide to keep him from his frequent outbursts. I like how kind and fiercely loyal he is. His outbursts add humor to the story.

The adults are a little less endearing than the children but none is really a cardboard stock character. Grandma Hoopes is tough but loving. She has her reasons for things and being the way she is. Her seafaring father was quite a character and his stories add to the charm of the novel but also make it a tad too unrealistic and cutesy in spots. I feel sorry for Aunt Marion. Gusta's Mama Gladys got the brains and the fiery temperament in the family while Aunt Marion is stuck taking care of a bunch of wild orphans. She is a sad, broken down woman who can't stand up to her own mother. She does have some backstory which is a bit of a surprise, especially in a novel for readers ages 9-12 and it makes me wonder what she was like as a young woman. Gusta's teacher surprised me. I think her personality changed a bit from knowing Gusta and learning from the girl. Miss Kendall is another kind and sympathetic teacher who inspires the girls to learn music but I found her weak and silly in spots. I understand Grandma's feelings.

The adult male characters are not as strong as the female. Uncle Charlie is a sad, literally broken man. I felt really horrible for him especially since I work at a textile mill museum and I know what the machines look like and how the line works. Our machines are individually operated in case Uncle Charlie needed to fix a loom without shutting down the line. I'm not sure what kind of textile mill wouldn't have that same system. I also know unions were active in New England mills in the 1930s but they don't seem to have reached that corner of Maine yet. I really wanted to be sympathetic to Uncle Charlie but Gusta's gung-ho reaction to the situation annoyed me. Uncle Charlie is not her concern. Mr. Bertmann is very quirky. He's either a villain or really naive. I knew his scheme with the pigeons was not going to go over well in the community. His backstory comes out all at once after he disappeared from the plot for awhile. It was sad but told in an age appropriate way. It's also only 1941 and the future has yet to be determined. The mill owner villain really bothered me. He's the only character that's stereotypical. Of course mill owner=villain. Why can't the mill owner be benevolent? There were some good mill owners at that time.

The author provides a brief note but not a lot of information on sources so I found Labor Unions During the Great Depression and New Deal and
Profile Image for Morris.
964 reviews164 followers
February 4, 2019
Try as I might, I can't think of another middle grade novel set in the 1940s that deals with labor organization in America. That is just the beginning of issues tackled in this book and all are handled well. This will make an especially good choice for budding history buffs.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for honest feedback.
Profile Image for Dianna.
1,875 reviews32 followers
February 8, 2018
I adore this book! The writing is lyrical and clear; the characters are believable and lovable; the historical events covered are highly relevant today; and there is a French horn, an attic full of old books, and an interrupting boy.

Eleven-year-old Gusta is easy to relate to. Her life hasn't been easy, but she's figured out ways to make life work. So when she's dumped off a bus to go live with her formidable grandmother, she makes it work. When people at school aren't kind, she copes. When her uncle needs an expensive operation, she works to make it happen. Not all her choices are perfect—there are plenty of learning experiences here—but it's hard not to love someone who tries so hard.

This book is set in pre-WWII Maine. Historical aspects touched upon include the upcoming war; union organizing; people fleeing Germany because of the events leading up to the war; and suspicion of immigrants under the guise of nationalism and security. I found it to be exceedingly relevant to events going on today, and that is one reason I am going to be strongly encouraging my eleven-year-old son to read this ASAP.

Another reason I'll be encouraging him to read it is the bits about the French horn. My son plays it too, and I think he loves it as much as Gusta does. The passages that talk about how she feels when she plays it, I can see in my own son when he picks up his horn or talks about it. And the case banging against the shins: spot on! My son's biggest challenge when he started playing it last year was just carrying it around.

I can't finish my review without mentioning the amazing writing surrounding Gusta getting glasses. I have never needed glasses, but reading about how she felt after getting them, I finally think I know what it would be like.

I would love to see this book in the running for the Newbery. It's that good!


Content: An orphan discovers her true parentage (talk of a "mistake" made years earlier); a single pregnant woman delivers a baby and leaves it behind; a man scares a girl and rips her sweater. Ages 10+, but really, nothing in here offensive, just material for discussion.
Profile Image for Juli.
738 reviews25 followers
May 1, 2018
I would like to thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for my advanced copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Wow, what a complex book. This book is so much more than a middle-grade book. The story takes us to Maine (and to be honest pretty much the reason why I wanted to review this book in the first place, I am only slightly obsessed with everything Maine). Springdale is a small, non-coastal, working-class town. We find ourselves on the eve of US's involvement in WWII - the townspeople worry about unregistered aliens, being drafted, and the first signs of communist ideas such as union uprisings. Gusta's papa is a fugitive with union ideas and a German background. Gusta's mama is holding down the fort in New York City. Gusta was sent to live in Springdale with her grandma who runs an orphanage. There she searches for a special coin that her sea captain great-grandfather hid.

During the story, we follow Gusta as she gets used to living away from her mom and dad, tries to fit in with her new peers in her new school, and constantly searches for that wish-granting coin all the while she is growing up and learning that adults aren't always rational, that they aren't always fair, and that they aren't always good!

I loved this book. While reading, I tried to remember if I ever had read such a deep middle-grade novel when I was the target age and I couldn't come up with an example. And even if I had, I probably would've had to admit that it went over my head a bit. I am glad that authors now challenge kids of all ages to think and muddle their way through complex storylines and plots. I also think that this book will reach older audiences that other middle-grade books probably wouldn't. All in all, this is a great novel and well worth your time.

See my blog (spoilers possible!) here: https://ichleseblog.wordpress.com/201....
Profile Image for Kateryna.
481 reviews85 followers
September 15, 2018
Set in 1942, this is a story about a young girl who moves in with her grandmother because her parents are in trouble. She doesn’t quite fit in, having a German name on the verge of WWII, needing glasses, and coming from a poor family. I found the storytelling to be well done. Though the book was longer than necessary, and my main issue was the fact that there were a lot of subplots to keep track of. Also, the idea of unionizing and connections to socialism were too heavy for a middle grade read. Overall, this book was sweet and enjoyable but nothing else.
Profile Image for Amie's Book Reviews.
1,543 reviews167 followers
February 2, 2018
THE ORPHAN BAND OF SPRINGDALE by Anne Nesbet is a work of Historical fiction, written with middle-grade as the intended readership. It is  "... nightingale sweet and honey-smooth."

Anne Nesbet has beautifully mixed  music with history, family and a morality tale of doing what is right, no matter how difficult that may be.

Eleven year old Augusta Neubronner Hoopes is sent from her home in New York City to stay at her grandmother's house deep in central Maine.

From the very first chapter we learn that Augusta (who prefers to be called "Gusta") has a very heavy load on her shoulders.

Halfway through the trip from New York to Maine, her father disappears. It turns out that he escaped just before authorities searched the bus looking for him. Gusta's father was born in Germany and has been involved with the labor movement ever since arriving in the United States. Now, he is a fugitive from the law.

When Gusta arrives at her grandmother's house, all she has to her name is a small bag of clothes and her most prized possession - a French horn. That horn is not just decorative. Gusta can play it, and play it well.

Hearing a family legend that somewhere there is a magic wish "...in a box on a shelf..." Gusta would dearly love to find that wish and sets out to ferret out its location.

The longer she lives in the small town, the more problems she sees that need to be set right. Her father always told her that people needed to help each other whenever they could, and Gusta intends to honor his teaching - no matter how much it will hurt her to do so.

I love this. It is so refreshing to read a story in which solidarity is celebrated and where selfishness is discouraged. In today's world, it is all about "ME". Too many people worry only about themselves and ignore the consequences to others of their actions. In this regard, going back in time would be wonderful.

Sometimes it is necessary to look at the world through the eyes of a child who has not yet been beaten down by life. It is through Gusta's wonderfully flawed eyes that adult readers of this novel discover that everything can be boiled down to one of two choices ... Right or Wrong. This lesson may be a simple one, but it is one that is often forgotten. I am happy to say that "The Orphan Band of Springdale" has reminded me of that oh-so-true reality.

Anne Nesbet has touched on so many issues worthy of discussion in this book that it is easy to see this book in a middle grade classroom and a lively discussion taking place. I highly recommend this book to teachers of those grades (as well as to everyone else.)

Here is a partial list of some of the discussion worthy topics include:

* Work ethic in the past vs. work ethic in present day
* Hardscrabble lives
* Unions
* Injured Workers
* Patriotism
* Prejudice
* Government & health
* Music
* Money and lack of it
* Airplanes
* Bullying
* Glasses
* German in the USA
* Dairy Wars
* Purity - of milk and of birth
* Orphans
* Family loyalty
* The value of historic writings - such as the sketchbook and journal from the sea captain found in the attic by Gusta
* Selflessness
* Changes in technology from 1941 to present day
* And much more...

I sped through the reading of this book because I did not want to put it down. In fact, I spent two very sleepless nights devouring the pages and fully immersing myself in Gusta's world. Author Anne Nesbet has crafted Gusta's world with beautifully detailed descriptions and characters with such depth that they seem 100% real. It is patently obvious that the author has a distinct love of small-town Maine, and that love has seeped through onto every page of this delectable book.

I rate this book as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and am planning to check out previous novels written by Anne Nesbet.

I predict that THE ORPHAN BAND OF SPRINGDALE will find its way onto the Bestseller list shortly after its official release date.

* I would like to thank GOODREADS as well as CANDLEWICK PRESS for providing me with an ARC (Advance Reading Copy) of this book.

To read more of my reviews, visit my blog at http://Amiesbookreviews.wordpress.com

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Profile Image for Samama Reza.
Author 2 books51 followers
May 15, 2020
I was so sad to say goodbye to all the characters I became good friends with in The Orphanband of Springdale. There were so many unforgettable little personalities in this book that I’m sure I’ll miss.

In 1941, Augusta Neubronner gets sent to Springdale, Maine, to her grandmother’s orphan home because life was getting tough in New York. With a father who’s missing and is being looked for as a fugitive by the police and a mother who’s still far away in New York, life gets tricky for the 11 year out Augusta. But with her musical French horn and her new friends, life starts getting a little less worrisome, but a lot trickier at the same time. This story is about her journey through life alone in her little – metaphorical – boat and how she learns to overcome the storms that come her way.

I loved the simplicity of this book, and loved how the story was written from the eyes of a little child. It showed how wonderful and horrifying the world looked from little Augusta’s point of view. The writing style was so smooth and detailed – something that I absolutely love and look forward to in books. There are just too many things I loved about The Orphanband of Springdale to point only a few out. Plus the fact that it didn’t have any romance in it made it so much easier for me to read it during Ramadan.

A book that’ll make you go through a roller coaster of emotions. 5/5 stars. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
July 22, 2020
Wow. I finished this last night, & wow. This book had my emotions all over the place:happy, sad, mad, frustrated, worried, relieved, shock, love, empathy, & love love love. This book was amazing. It’s 1941 & people hate the unions & people trying to strengthen them, & they are scared of ALL Germans. There are different Germans in this story, & all their stories are different. The thing they have in common though is they aren’t wanted anywhere. If the US sends them back to Germany, they will be killed-for different reasons. The people of Maine(for the most part) hate them regardless, & fear them. They automatically group them in w/Nazis even though they have shown that is the opposite of who they are. It really made me mad the way Gusta & some others were treated...all b/c of where they were born. Life repeating art in different but very similar ways, yet again. I loved Gusta & that French horn! She was such an amazing character! And had way more strength, bravery, & smarts than she ever knew. I loved seeing her realize this. The side characters that had my heart in this book were Georges, & Mr. Bertmann-who especially touched my heart & I adored. I loved the family so much-her Gramma Hoopes, her Aunt, Josie, cousin, & all the orphans! It was amazing seeing the change in Gusta from her time there. I loved their band! So great. I also loved the idea of the wish, & I really enjoyed that in the story. I loved how everything wrapped up in the end as well.💜💜The author did a lot of research on 1941 & the area, & it really shows in this story. She also says this is based somewhat on her mother’s childhood...what she knew of it...& the rest she wrote as fiction...just to get the story out-the story she wished she had gotten all of before her mother died so young. Well THAT made me cry! Lol That made this story mean even more. It felt real anyway reading it, b/c this is basically what real life WAS then & what people went through. I got teary several times toward the end of the book-nothing terrible happens, just EMOTIONS! Lol I highly recommend this book. It is amazing. It is important. 💜💜

Synopsis: With the United States on the verge of World War II, eleven-year-old Gusta is sent from New York City to Maine, where she discovers small-town prejudices — and a huge family secret.

It’s 1941, and tensions are rising in the United States as the Second World War rages in Europe. Eleven-year-old Gusta’s life, like the world around her, is about to change. Her father, a foreign-born labor organizer, has had to flee the country, and Gusta has been sent to live in an orphanage run by her grandmother. Nearsighted, snaggletoothed Gusta arrives in Springdale, Maine, lugging her one precious possession: a beloved old French horn, her sole memento of her father. But in a family that’s long on troubles and short on money, how can a girl hang on to something so valuable and yet so useless when Gusta’s mill-worker uncle needs surgery to fix his mangled hand, with no union to help him pay? Inspired by her mother’s fanciful stories, Gusta secretly hopes to find the coin-like “Wish” that her sea-captain grandfather supposedly left hidden somewhere. Meanwhile, even as Gusta gets to know the rambunctious orphans at the home, she feels like an outsider at her new school — and finds herself facing patriotism turned to prejudice, alien registration drives, and a family secret likely to turn the small town upside down.

Profile Image for Sunday.
923 reviews45 followers
May 27, 2018
“When the storm is coming, we must quickly find out who we are: who we are in the light of trouble.”—Augusta’s father.

I didn't want to put it down. This is the kind of book you can read aloud to a class or give to a literature circle or book talk and leave to be snapped up in the classroom library. Augusta Neubronner, who travels alone to Maine to find her grandmother, is the type of character your students will want to meet and know…forever. Each chapter felt like a surprise or a treat in itself with an introduction to a new, unusual character or unexpected twists in the plot. There are threads, though...that become running themes in the book worthy of discussion.

What does it mean to be a 'real American'? The book takes place in 1941 and there are young characters who debate what it means to be a 'Real American.' (You can tell they are repeating what they have heard at home.) There's a patriotic essay contest. There's the 'alien registration list' that some in the community are required to sign. And so forth.

Where do we get our information? Are we truly informed? Have we considered all sides? What do we not know? There are two children in Augusta's class from different dairy farming families. This is the initial "whose side are you on" dichotomy presented, but then other situations emerge where the reader or the characters want to take sides that seem simple at first...until the author reveals more of the details. Then "taking sides" gets messy.

What is a wish? Are wishes real? There is a fantastical aspect to this book--well, I won't give this away except to say wishes are REAL and drive what we do and believe in so many ways.

How can “a plan” be "almost as good as courage"? Early in the book, when Augusta has been left to travel alone to her grandmother’s house, she recalls bits of wisdom her father has shared over and over again including the quote at the beginning of this review. “In war and struggle, we do what we must.” “Stand tall and look like you know what you’re about!” (Her father is a labor movement organizer wanted by the federal government.) These provide strength for Augusta as she makes her way into a new life. She doesn’t always stand tall, though. She falls, she gets knocked down, she wearies as she carries the various burdens and yet she always returns to striving.

I could write more. I didn’t want this book to end. Nesbet’s writing is superb. I started marking pages with slips of paper and kept thinking “Newbery Newbery Newbery.”
Profile Image for Becky.
5,415 reviews122 followers
May 24, 2018
First sentence: Gusta Neubronner hadn't expected to be on a bus in Maine when she lost her father. She hadn't expected to be sitting alone scrunched up next to the dark blue coat of a woman she didn't know, or to have her French horn case balanced between her ankles, or for the weight of a night's worth of not sleeping to be pulling at her eyelids and making her mind slow and stupid just at the moment when she needed to be even more alert than her usual quick-brained self.

Premise/plot: The Orphan Band of Springdale is set during World War II in the months leading up to Pearl Harbor, to America officially joining the War. It's set in a small town in Maine. Nesbit does a MARVELOUS job with the setting.

Gusta--or Augusta--is our heroine. She has gone to live with her grandmother. Her father has fled the country--he's being hunted down by officials who dislike his union leanings. (Remember this is when standing for 'the union' and workers' rights means being a communist). Her mother has sent her to her grandmother for safekeeping. She soon finds friends her own age--a cousin who lives near by and a houseful of foster children that her grandma is caring for. (Some are not truly orphans, just children whose parents can no longer care for them. Remember this is during the Depression.)

School is school. She loves some aspects of it; not all aspects of it. There are a few SNOBS in her class that assume the worst about her, that accuse her of being an alien, of being a foreign spy, of being THE ENEMY.

Gusta needs glasses. Since money is hard to come by and the need is pressing, Mr. Bertmann, the oculist offers her a deal. She'll work for him in the afternoons in exchange for her glasses. Part of her work will include taking care of pigeons.

The other story has to do with 'the band.'

My thoughts: The Orphan Band of Springdale is a character-driven historical novel with HEART. Some books are ALL about the journey and not the destination. Such is The Orphan Band of Springdale. (I loved spending time with Gusta and her friends Delphine, Bess, and Josie.) I loved her at home and at school. I loved her when she was trying to be brave and do the right thing. I loved her when she got into messes. I loved all the banter between the competing milk company kids. It's just a great coming-of-age story.

Profile Image for Carolyn.
785 reviews
May 12, 2018
Note: I received this book from the author/publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This had a lot of elements 10-year-old me would have just eaten up: 1940's setting (loved me some WWII fiction), orphans, and a slightly quieter/reserved main character. In fact, if nothing else, I appreciate the fact that this story didn't focus on a loud, bubbly character- younger me would have relished and been excited to see a character like Gusta. So maybe this is a case of "wrong place, wrong time" and this book should be sent back in time 15 years so I could really really enjoy it. Because as it is, I thought this was good but not great.

My main issue was the fact that the story seemed slightly disjointed at parts and there were a lot of subplots to keep track of- trying to find her great-grandfather's wish, the impending war and the topic of patriotism, Gusta's absent father and being sent away from her New York City home, starting a band to compete in the town fair showcasing Gusta's beloved french horn, the idea of unionizing and connections to socialism (kinda heavy for any book, but especially a middle grade read) and just general trying to fit in/growing up/being a kid in an adult world issues. And these are all super important and very fitting and need to be voiced. However, I wonder if I would have connected with this book better if only some of the plot points had been focused on.

Overall, I liked this book and found the storytelling to be well done. This is based on Nesbet's mother's life and you can tell there is a lot of love and care put into this book. I would have loved this book as a kiddo and I'm sure other younger readers will quite enjoy this as well. I have my few quibbles but it certainly doesn't detract from the overall success of the book.
Profile Image for Fatima Alsuwaidi.
Author 3 books17 followers
March 21, 2018
The Orphan Band of Springdale by Anne Nesbet

*I've received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest book review*

Eleven-years-old Gusta finds her self-solo in a bus heading to her grandmother's orphanage while her mother is working in NewYork, her father a labor organizer is on the run and WWII is about to explode.
She's in a new town and couldn't be more of an outsider in both school and her grandmother's house but alongside her is her most prized possession her French Horn. She formes a band with her cousin and new friend all while fighting down the secrets that she promised to keep hidden and trying to live up to her new community's expectations.

This was a cute, sweet book. I felt like reading daily events about little children living in a war period without actually being in a place of battle but still affected by it.

I see myself being friends with Gusta she was very mature, friendly and loyal. All the characters in the book were relatable but, the truth it is we could have gotten more details about each and everyone because most relationships in the book were unique and had a strong base.
Especially since a good chunk of this book was super stretched.

I learned for the first time that someone had actually tried to put auto cameras on pigeons to take pictures from the sky!!! *mind blown*

Her uncle's wounded hand was probably the story that moved me the most, it projected a true human injustice.

I think the story could've had more depth yet at the same time it pointed big issues.

This book was sweet and enjoyable but unfortunately nothing else.

Three Stars.
Profile Image for Katherine.
315 reviews
April 8, 2018
Gusta and her dad, a labor organizer, are on a bus traveling from New York to Springdale, Maine together. Her father unexpectedly disappears and Gusta must finish the journey alone. With her cherished French horn and a letter to her grandmother from her mother, when the bus arrives in Springdale, Gusta trudges through the cold weather to her Grandmother's orphanage.

This is a fine, well-written historical fiction for middle grade kids. Gusta has so many fine qualities. She bravely relocates to a new home in a new state. She attends a school where the students and teachers are strangers to her. She faces the absence of her parents, and so wants to help her uncle get the surgery for his damaged hand. She faces injustices and verbal attacks on her person and integrity. There are secrets, wish coins and diaries of a sea-faring grandfather. This is a wonderful story that left me with a good feeling when it ended.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Candlewick Press through Netgalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Profile Image for Alex  Baugh.
1,954 reviews109 followers
March 7, 2019
It's 1941 and Augusta "Gusta" Hoopes Neubronner, 11, is on a bus traveling with her French horn from New York City to Springdale, Maine by herself. She wasn't always by herself, but she had to leave her parents for financial reasons and go to live with her grandmother in Maine. Gusta's mother had remained in NYC working. Her German-born father had traveled with her until he had to abruptly get off the bus in Portland, Maine when two men boarded looking for him. Gusta's father is a union organizer, an accused communist, and therefore a wanted man.

To Gusta's surprise, her grandmother, Clementine Hoopes, and her Aunt Marion Hoopes run a small orphanage in their house and were not expecting her. Nevertheless, after reading the letter Gusta's mother sent with her, they welcome her into the house and pretty soon she is assimilated into their daily routine. She quickly becomes friend's with Josie, an orphan already in high school, and her cousin Bess, who lives nearby. Gusta settles in at school as well, but when it is discovered how really nearsighted she is, she is sent to an oculist, Mr. Bertmann, a German immigrant, to have her eyes tested and get a pair of glasses. To pay for them, Gusta will work in his shop a few afternoons a week dusting, helping with his accounts, and taking care of his beloved carrier pigeons.

Gusta also loves playing her French horn, but her grandmother doesn't see the value of music and forbids her to practice at home. Gusta's Aunt Marion has always won a blue ribbon for her jam at the county fair, something her grandmother brags about often. Josie suggests the three friends form a band and enter the Blue-Ribbon Band competition at the county fair next summer, hoping to win and change Gusta's grandmother's mind about music, it is an idea met with enthusiasm.

Meanwhile, Josie introduces Gusta to the high school music teacher, Miss Kendall. Miss Kendall is impressed enough with her playing to let Gusta join the high school orchestra. Miss Kendall also takes a real interest in Gusta's French horn, recognizing its value immediately. She is also the sister of Fred Kendall, owner of Kendall Mills, a man who treats the Hoopes women with contempt.

Gusta, who knows something about union organizing, decides to help her Uncle Charlie. He had been injured in at work accident at Kendall Mills and is not longer able to work unless he has an operation the family can't afford. Gusta invites a labor organizer to Springdale to organize the Kendall family's factory and hopefully get some compensation for Uncle Charlie.

And then there is the war in Europe. Though the United States is still not in the war yet, patriotism is running high in Springdale. A new airfield is about to open and the Springdale Aviation Committee is sponsoring a contest for the best patriotic essay on the theme "A Vision of American on High." And snooty classmate Molly Gowen is starting a Real Americans Club with the help of the Women's Patriotic Society of Springdale and she's made it clear that Gusta is not qualified to join because of her German father. Nor does all this misplaced patriotism bode well for Mr. Bertmann and his carrier pigeons, as you can imagine.

Oh yes, there is also a magic wish that threads through this story, an belief that Gusta holds on to tightly in her new living situation.

I had a little trouble getting into The Orphan Band of Springdale at first, but once I did, I couldn't put it down. And I won't kid you, this is a big book - 448 pages long - and I know it looks like there's a lot is going on in it, and that's probably because a lot is going on. But eventually it all comes together and long hidden truths are exposed, including a family secret in the Hoopes household that will leave you gobsmacked.

Gusta is a very likable character, well developed and with an wonderful internal dialogue that really lets her personality shine through. She is also a girl with a well-developed moral compass, thanks to her parents, and alway just wants to do the right thing. And it is through her goodness that the hidden secrets and nativist patriotic agendas are ultimately exposed and truth is illuminated. Hence, Gusta's new glasses serve as a metaphor for events in the novel or as her father described it "the way the sun catches things out against the darkness of a coming storm: "the clear light of trouble." (pg 29)

The Orphan Band of Springdale is a thoroughly satisfying novel, with a kind of comforting heartwarming old fashioned sensibility as it explores themes of family, truth, misplaced patriotism, otherness, and, finally, forgiveness. The book I had trouble getting into turned out to be just that book I wanted to read.

This book is recommended for readers age 9+
Thank you to Candlewick Press for providing me with a copy of this book.
Profile Image for Nicole.
82 reviews8 followers
November 15, 2018
I predict The Orphan Band of Springdale will be on the short list for a Newbery. This beautifully written novel for children is a timeless story that will resonate with readers of all ages. 11 year-old Augusta "Gusta" Hoopes Neubronner has been put on a bus by her foreign-born labor organizer father, August Neubronner, as he is pursued by the authorities. She does not know what has happened to him, and she must travel to Grandma Hoope's home in Springdale, Maine on her own.Grandma Hoope's also houses orphans and wards of the state in her home. Her mother has stayed behind in New York City. Her only companion is her beloved French horn. Gusta perseveres and overcomes many obstacles as the new kid at school, as the the prejudices and suspicions of a small town press down upon her and others, she must also learn to see the world in a new way because the school nurse finds that she desperately needs eyeglasses. Gusta keeps her spirits up by following the just and moral lessons taught to her by her parents, but learns that sometimes you need more than one person on your side when everything goes wrong. This novel is set during WWII, when suspicion was cast upon new immigrants and outsiders to our country (in this case - against German immigrants). It addresses the themes of inclusion, tolerance and acceptance of people for who they are and not where they are from. It also teaches valuable lessons about workers' rights and the labor movement. This novel also teaches readers about staying positive in order to achieve goals and overcome adversity. This novel is recommended, and I strongly feel would be a great read even for teens studying American history. It will be a valuable addition to every school library. Recommended, must read. This will win many awards.
Profile Image for Alisia.
212 reviews49 followers
April 18, 2018
*I received a free copy from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review."

This outstanding middle-grade historical fiction novel, set in small-town Maine during the early 1940s, tackles some big topics. Xenophobia, anti-immigration sentiment, union and labor rights organizations all play a role in the narrative that holds many parallels to modern day current events.

Gusta is an 11 year old girl who is sent to live with her grandmother in Springdale, Maine, after her foreign-born father is forced to go on the run because of his labor organizing efforts. Her grandmother runs a children's home, and we meet a motley crew that all reside under Grandma Hoopes's roof as Gusta adjusts to her changed circumstances. Underlying this tale that is both heartwarming and powerful, is The Wish. The Wish is supposedly a magic coin that her sea-captain grandfather hid somewhere, and Gusta hopes to find it and use the wish to help her family.

This is a story that teaches empathy and courage. Compassion and inclusiveness. Gusta is kind, intelligent, brave, and incredibly strong. The anti-immigrant storyline resonates today, and I could see this as an excellent book to use for an anti-bullying or diversity curriculum.
Profile Image for Kristi.
42 reviews
June 6, 2023
I would give this 3.5 stars if that was an option. Interesting story from a different angle pre-WWII. I expected the story to focus more on the music and band (hence the title) but it was more about broken families, choices, friendships and consequences of Xenophobia. The story felt a little forced at times and deals with some heavy issues (children born out of wedlock, Xenophobia, American ideals twisted to be used against people, etc) but in a softer form. Personally, I found the heroine to be underdeveloped as a character and rather boring. There were moments I thought this book could have something going, and I think overall it was a "good" read but almost forgettable afterwards.

Triggers: orphans, abandoned children, neglectful parents, unjust work situations and unions.
Profile Image for Heidi.
346 reviews
April 19, 2018
In 1941, eleven year old Gusta's life is turned upside down when her father disappears and her mother sends her to live in rural Maine with her grandmother and a house full of wild, fun loving orphans. Homesick as she can be, Gusta's perception of the world slowly changes as she learns to love her mother's family. She's given a pair of eyeglasses from a gentle optician with a fondness for pigeons. She gains great confidence and sees the effect of music on her community through her talent on the French horn. And she grows to own an understanding of life's harsher realities asshe faces a small community whose world is on the brink of war.

A wonderful and touching book, I highly enjoyed "The Orphan Band of Springdale". The writing is personable and accessible and the characters grow close to the reader's heart. The sticky situations Gusta finds herself in are realistic and sad, and resolutions (or the lack thereof) are true to life. I can highly recommend this as great middle grade historical fiction.

Thank you to @netgalley and @candlewickpress for an advanced electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. “The Orphan Band of Springdale” was published April 10th, 2018...I highly recommend a copy for the children in your life...your own personal library.
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