Written by Rachel Walman
After scouring many, many middle grade historical fiction and non-fiction books, a team of historians, educators, and families have chosen this year’s winner of the New-York Historical Society’s Children’s History Book Prize. That winning book is Echo by acclaimed author Pam Muñoz Ryan!
Echo beautifully weaves together the individual stories of a boy in Germany during the early 1930s, two orphans in Pennsylvania during the mid-1930s, and a girl in California in the early 1940s as the same harmonica lands in their lives, binding them by an invisible thread of destiny. All the children face daunting challenges—rescuing a father from the Nazis, keeping a brother out of an orphanage, and protecting the farm of a Japanese-American family during internment—until their suspenseful solo stories converge in an orchestral crescendo.
Author Pam Muñoz Ryan came to New-York Historical on June 2 to accept the award from New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña in front of more than 180 NYC school children. It was an amazing afternoon, and the audience learned so much! Did you know there was a harmonica band craze in the United States in the 1920s and ’30s? Did you know certain words repeat in every story in Echo?
Check out these images from the event and then go check out Echo! The Reading into History Family Book Club will meet to discuss the book, celebrate the book club’s 4th birthday, and get a curator-led tour of the exhibition Anti-Semitism: 1919-1939 on Sunday, June 26 from 2 pm ̶ 4 pm. As always, this meeting will be free with Museum Admission and no RSVPs are required.
We also want to recognize and recommend our three other finalists for this year’s prize Rhythm Ride: A Road Trip Through the Motown Sound by Andrea Davis Pinkney, I Don’t Know How the Story Ends by J.B. Cheaney, and My Near-Death Adventures (99% True!) by Alison DeCamp. All three are so different, so rich in history, and so worth the read.
Congratulations to our finalists and especially to our winner, Pam Muñoz Ryan! Now we have to start reading for next year’s winner…what book do you think should win?