Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Mendel's Accordion

Mendel's Accordion

Heidi Smith Hyde
Illustrator:  Johanna van der Sterre 
Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Lerner, 2007   ISBN: 158013212X

Mendel had a simple life in a small village, and though he did not have much, he was content. He played the accordion beautifully, and people often asked him to play for them, which he was happy to do. As he travelled from village to village performing, Mendel made friends with other musicians, and soon they formed a klezmorim, a band, of six performers. Together they played at weddings, festivals, and fairs.

Then there came a time when life in the village was no longer happy. People were hungry and afraid of what the future held, and so Mendel decided to move to America. On the boat he met three musicians, and together they played music to ease the misery and discomfort of the long journey.

When they got to New York, Mendel and his friends could not believe how big and how populated the city was. Though Mendel worked long hours mending shoes, he still found time to play his accordion. After he got married he played for his young wife, and then later he played for his children. His old friends who came over on the ship with him would visit his home, and they would play together “just like the old days.”

This heart-warming tale tells the story of klezmer musicians, who came together to play music on special occasions. Though they lived in troubled times, these musicians never let go of their music, taking it with them wherever they went, holding on to their musical heritage even when they were building new lives in countries that were far away from their homelands.

At the back of the book the author provides the reader with more information about klezmer music and the accordion.