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The Gift of Music

The Greatest Song of All, How Isaac Stern United the World to Save Carnegie Hall written by Megan Hoyt and illustrated by Katie Hickey, published by Quill Tree Books.

This time of year makes me think of holiday concerts, be them the elementary school choir, the high school orchestra, or family outings to concert halls across the country.

And so, I immediately think of one of the most famous concert halls in the world, Carnegie Hall in New York City. It will equally host a plethora of concerts this month bringing joy to many audiences.

What also makes this hall special is its history of welcoming performers of all races and religions. With over a dozen different holidays (religious and otherwise) celebrated in the month of December, it's nice to have a place where everyone is welcome on stage and in the seats. And to think ... without the passion and determination of Isaac Stern, Carnegie Hall wouldn't be here today!

Megan Hoyt's skill for research and her talent for writing engaging and entertaining texts combine to introduce readers to violinist Isaac Stern and the history of this famous hall that, luckily, continues to introduce audiences to the most accomplished singers, dancers, and musicians in the world.

Since boyhood, Isaac dreamed of becoming a violinist. His parents, Jewish immigrants fleeing war-torn Ukraine, worked hard and saved all they could in order to give him the best violin lessons. That hard work and determination not only helped him achieve his musical dreams, but would be the inspiration he would also need to rally New York City, the country, and the world behind saving Carnegie Hall from demolition.

Katie Hickey's illustrations in gouache and coloring pencil take readers back in time to NYC and complement the narrative with movement and emotion... like any great song will do.

Rich back matter includes an author's note, more information on Carnegie Hill and Isaac Stern, a timeline, Isaac Stern's petition, and sources.

Imagine It!

Imagine that your living room or bedroom is a concert hall! Imagine you are in charge of putting on the best, most spectacular Winter Concert.

Gather a few friends and/or family (you can even fill in the audience with stuffed animals or dolls ;) ).

Assign each person a role. You will need: a singer, a musician, and a conductor. If you have enough people, assign them to be an usher, an announcer, and someone to run the concession stand (it's always good to have snacks). Imagine who else you might need... You can also take turns in different roles.

Let everyone perform their talents. Don't forget to clap and ask for an Encore!

Imagine how much joy the show will bring.


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