Mendel’s Accor­dian

Hei­di Smith Hyde; Johan­na Van Der Sterre, illus.
  • Review
By – April 2, 2012
This sweet pic­ture book tells the typ­i­cal immi­grant sto­ry through the expe­ri­ence of Mendel, a klezmer musi­cian. In the old coun­try, Mendel plays his accor­dion in a klezmer band, mak­ing peo­ple laugh with his hap­py music and cry with his sad music. But when things get bad in the old coun­try, Mendel takes his accor­dion and boards a ship for Amer­i­ca. On the long ocean jour­ney, Mendel joins some oth­er musi­cians to enter­tain the pas­sen­gers, who laugh and cry to the music. In New York the musi­cians all get day jobs, but form a klezmer band to play music in the evenings and on week­ends. Mendel gets mar­ried, has chil­dren and grand­chil­dren. Styles in music change, and Mendel’s accor­dion is put away. Years lat­er, Mendel’s great-grand­son Samuel finds the accor­dion in the attic. It is worn and dusty and in need of repair, but Samuel has it repaired, learns to play and starts a new klezmer band. This love­ly lit­tle sto­ry can be read aloud as a sim­ple tale or read for infor­ma­tion about this spe­cial kind of music. Johan­na Van Der Sterre’s folksy, water­col­or illus­tra­tions beau­ti­ful­ly describe the feel­ings and move­ment of the sto­ry. The last page of the book offers inter­est­ing his­tor­i­cal facts about klezmer music and about the accor­dion. For ages 5 – 8.

Read­ing Guide

Diane Levin Rauschw­erg­er is librar­i­an for Con­gre­ga­tion Beth Am, Los Altos Hills, CA, and has worked as a children’s librar­i­an for the Sun­ny­vale Pub­lic Library. She is the author of a series of children’s pic­ture books, includ­ing Dinosaur on Hanukkah, Dinosaur on Passover, and Dinosaur on Shab­bat, pub­lished by Kar-Ben Publishing.

Discussion Questions