Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Orphan Band of Springdale

35879383Nesbet, Anne. The Orphan Band of Springdale
April 10th 2018 by Candlewick Press
E ARC from Netgalley

Gusta Neubronner is on a bus from New York City to a small town in Maine in 1941 when her father disappears. He is a union organizer, and has told Gusta a little bit about what to do if men come for him, but she just didn't expect it. At least she is on her way to her grandmother's house, and manages to arrive without other incidents. Her grandmother runs an odd sort of orphanage, so there is plenty of room for Gusta. She settles in to school, gets to know her cousin, and finally gets a much needed pair of eyeglasses. In order to pay for the glasses, she helps a German optometrist who keeps pigeons. As WWII heats up, everyone comes under suspicion, especially the optometrist and Gusta, who is unable to furnish a birth certificate to the school. Gusta plays the French Horn, and is glad to be approached by the high school band, but when her uncle needs an operation to repair damage done by the looms at his work, she sells the instrument to help pay for it. She also writes to a labor organizer in New York who worked with her father, hoping to get some representation for the uncle's case. Long held family secrets emerge, and eventually Gusta is able to make sense of her world.
Strengths: I am constantly fascinated by books involving Germans in the US during WWII, but aside from A Tiny Piece of Sky and Bunting's Spying on Miss Muller (1995), there aren't that many. This Nesbet's own mother's story, and the love that goes into the details is very evident. I would have adored this one as a child.
Weaknesses: A bit long (448 pages) for my students. The biggest reason WWII books circulate is for an 8th grade unit, and this could have had a few more details about life on the home front.
What I really think: May purchase this one if I have the money remaining to do so. This author's Cabinet of Earths and  Cloud and Wallfish don't circulate particularly well. Again, perfectly fine book, and it may be great for your library.

Ms. Yingling


  1. Nesbet’s research is so on point. I really appreciate that about her books.

  2. I work in Sanford / Springvale, Maine where this book was based. Anne Nesbet came to our school (the former high school from the book) and talked about her research for the book. It was fascinating and well received. For local Mainers this book was jam packed with references and historical tidbits.

  3. I'm going to check this book out. It looks interesting and I love WWII history.