Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate
Author: Dia Calhoun
Illustrator: Kate Slater
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Eckhart Lyon is sent to live with his Uncle Al after his parents drown in a car accident. Required to help out on Uncle Al’s orchard, the only thing Eckhart has left of his parents is a violin that was a gift from his mother. His uncle has no sympathy, but Eckhart finds friendship when he meets a girl named Eva, who has a vivid imagination and who loves everything about King Arthur and his knights. Gradually Eckhart learns to have hope and courage. But when Uncle Al tries to force Eckhart to choose between staying on the farm keeping his beloved violin, Eckhart must show great bravery and courage to save himself and discover his own ability to love.
This book is written in free-verse poetry, which makes the pages fly by. Eckhart's fears are clearly described, and it's easy to identify with him and feel his pain. The book teaches that everyone has sorrows or troubles that require time and patience to work through. Although the uncle seems harsh and unfeeling at the start of the book, over time he comes to rely on Eckhart, and they develop a certain kinship. Eckhart learns about friendship and caring through his relationship with Eva, and because she sees parallels to medieval life everywhere, she helps Eckhart to identify his quest and move toward achieving it. At the end, when Eckhart chooses to save his uncle and the farm, we recognize that he has come a long way in learning to look beyond his own problems and be willing to sacrifice for others.