Review: Benny Feldman's All-Star Klezmer Band

Benny Feldman's All-Star Klezmer Band by Allison & Wayne Marks

Category: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Sandy Wasserman

This book has 'everything' in it! Everything wonderful! ... Friendship, Judaism, life lessons, music of all kinds, angst of sixth grade first love, shyness, overcoming stage fright, honoring family, how to deal with bullies, jealousy... and even redemption. And all of this 'wonderfulness' is via music, and Benny's ragtag band of friends, who come together in amazing ways. It's about the love of music and how "All music is connected... and how music connects us all." (Even and especially klezmer music)

There is so much about Judaism and Jewish history in this fiction book! Via Benny's Uncle Maxwell, he comes to realize his love of, and talent for klezmer music which finds him and binds him to his new friends... and even helps him earn the respect of his arch enemy from a miserable second grade Hebrew school experience that's haunted him all through the grades. There's Yiddish in the book and a million Jewish references , and so much about klezmer music - and yet it's a very modern book taking place in a nondescript public school experience. This book is magic!

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Sandy Wasserman is a retired teacher of Gifted and Talented students, and taught for 35 years in both public schools and at a Solomon Schechter Day School. She's a wife, mother of two adult daughters, and grandmother to two fantastic 'first readers' of her manuscripts. Her published book, The Sun's Special Blessing [2009], was her first serendipitous and fun experience in the publishing world. She loves to read and swim, though not at the same time.