Hold On to Your Music: The Inspiring True Story of the Children of Willesden Lane

Little, Brown. Jan. 2021. 40p. adapted by adapt. by Emil Sher. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780316463133; pap. $9.99. ISBN 9780316463089.
PreS-Gr 3–This intimate picture book shares the true story of Golabek’s mother, Lisa Jura, an Austrian Jewish refugee who survived the Holocaust and pursued her dream to become a concert pianist. The narrative begins in Vienna in 1938. Jura’s piano teacher informed her that she could no longer take piano lessons because she was Jewish. Upon returning home, her parents explained the hatred of the Nazis for Jewish people. Her mother encouraged her to “hold on to your music. It will always be your best friend,” which served as the touchstone for Jura’s life. Possentini’s pastel and gouache illustrations depict warm, realistic scenes of Jura traveling from Vienna to Britain on a Kindertransport train and finding refuge at Willesden Lane, which was a home for children who had left their families behind. Mrs. Cohen and the 32 other children supported Jura’s musical ambitions and helped her land an audition at the Royal Academy of Music. Rich, engrossing art and precise storytelling accentuate scenes of Jura playing piano in the basement while bombs fall, and performing at her first concert. The history of Nazism, the Holocaust, and the lifesaving mission of the Kindertransport are deftly explained in the author’s historical note. Pictures and artifacts, combined with the author’s note about the inspiration she has always found in her mother’s love of music, stand out.
VERDICT A must-share snapshot of history that invites young readers to consider what they will hold on to when they face difficult times.

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