Banjo of Destiny
by Cary Fagan
Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2011. Chapter book.
Young Jeremiah Birnbaum has a life that is seemingly enviable--a huge house, a private school education, two loving parents, and great family wealth. However, when he hears banjo music for the first time, he is filled with a longing to make such music himself, but his parents forbid him to purchase what they consider a non-classical instrument. Jeremiah can't stop wanting one, and when his friend encourages him to find a way around his parent's decree, he decides to make his own banjo and teach himself how to play.
This is a short story with touches of humor and the message that if a person truly desires something they should pursue it with determination. I appreciated the message and I enjoyed the description of Jeremiah's banjo-building process, but overall, I didn't find this book to be particularly engaging. It might hold more appeal for younger children who are looking for a brief chapter book--perhaps most appropriate for third graders--but the story felt abrupt and the humor a bit forced. Nonetheless, if a child is very interested in either music or building their own creations, this might hold some value for such children. Sadly, a bit of a yawn.