The Sound of Freedom

  • Review
By – April 25, 2018

There are many books writ­ten about the Holo­caust for young read­ers. This one presents a slight­ly dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive and a lit­tle-known piece of mod­ern Israeli history.

Anna and her father, a clar­inet play­er in one of Poland’s finest orches­tras and an esteemed pri­vate music teacher, live a gen­teel and pleas­ant life in Krakow. Anna enjoys school, social­izes with friends, and watch­es her father’s rehearsals. She’s also a bud­ding clar­inet play­er her­self. But it is 1936, and Hitler’s stri­dent voice can­not be silenced on the radio. Class­mates begin to treat Anna and oth­er Jew­ish chil­dren unpleas­ant­ly, vio­lence against Jew­ish shop­keep­ers erupts on the streets — and sud­den­ly, Anna’s world no longer feels safe or secure.

An oppor­tu­ni­ty to leave for Manda­to­ry Pales­tine presents itself. A new orches­tra is being formed, and Pol­ish musi­cians are invit­ed to audi­tion. Exit visas will be issued to musi­cians who suc­cess­ful­ly audi­tion and to their fam­i­lies, as well. Anna’s father is not sure if he should uproot his fam­i­ly. Per­haps the trou­ble will blow over. Per­haps the rumors of worse to come are tru­ly only rumors. Anna and her grand­moth­er sense seri­ous dan­ger ahead, and work behind the scenes to make the scary but excit­ing pos­si­bil­i­ty of a move to Pales­tine into a real­i­ty. The fam­i­ly finds them­selves on their way to a new land — one filled with its own hard­ships and chal­lenges, but also one where they can have new hope for a bright Jew­ish future.

The sto­ry is based on actu­al events that ulti­mate­ly led to the for­ma­tion of the Israel Phil­har­mon­ic Orches­tra found­ed by Bro­nisław Huber­man, who fig­ures promi­nent­ly in the narrative.

The brave young hero­ine, her more cau­tious father, and her res­olute grand­moth­er are appeal­ing char­ac­ters who face dif­fi­cult choic­es with grace. Rec­om­mend­ed for ages 9 to 12.

Michal Hoschan­der Malen is the edi­tor of Jew­ish Book Coun­cil’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A for­mer librar­i­an, she has lec­tured on top­ics relat­ing to lit­er­a­cy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.

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