I wrote this review for Kids Lit Book Café
Before I start the review, I just want to take a moment to mention reviews given on Amazon and othe platforms by the grammar-police. If I had gone off the reviews on Amazon I might not have picked this book, and what a shame that would have been! It could use a bit of old spit-and-polish, but then quite honestly most books do. I am so glad that I am able to see beyond the layout to engage with the beautiful story painstakingly told for us, the readers.
What a delightful gem Cancionero is. Suitable for 5th grade upwards to adults, this engaging tale grabs your imagination. Fantastic characters make this a wonderful ‘Children’s Western Historical’.
The glue that keeps you gripped to a good story is the protagonist. Without that highly-liked and memorable person a story will fall flat. No chance of that here, for in the small town of Cancionero – a place so hot that ticks and fleas die by roasting, there is a plethora of great characters, including a boy that no one wants. Jeremy’s only possession when he turns up at the orphanage is his raggedy teddy, and his memories. Immediately bullied by fellow orphan Shackle, Jeremy tries his hardest to slip into the background, a hard thing to do when it’s discovered he has the voice of an angel!
Randolph Parrish’s descriptions of the one horse town and all the people within it, capture the imagination and make it clear to see everything. Besides loving the depth of personalities in this story, I thoroughly appreciated the story behind the words… that everyone (including a poor orphan boy and a drunk) has the right to be someone. With encouragement, anyone can rise out of the situation and turn things around. My favorite line from the book is when money obsessed Aloysius Twilder major of Cancionero, thinks God has answered his prayers with the arrival of Jeremy, for surely by sending the choir on tour he can not only get rid of the orphans for a while, but add money to his hoard! Such are the creatures within this Western tale, that there is hope, even for the major. I would love to be with a group of children who had just read this book and ask them what they might learn if they looked deep into the story. Would they like me, see forgiveness, tolerance, acceptance and redemption?
Randolph Parrish has an almost artistic touch to his writing, the story burbles along like the flow of a sparkling stream, and seems almost like a string of sonnets. This is one of the most pleasurable tales I’ve read for a long time, and therefore Cancionero comes highly recommended by Kids Lit Book Café.
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