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Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite
Keep Your Songs in Your Heart: A Story of Friendship and Hope During World War II by Carolyn Summer Quinn is a book for children (grade 4th-6th) with a powerful historical setting and an exploration of a strong friendship. The narrative begins in December 6, 1941. We meet the protagonist and her best friend, Emiko Fujiwara, walking along the block on First Avenue in Seattle towards the theater. They are enjoying their day, rehearsing the songs they will perform later in the month at the Sixth Grade Talent Show. But little do they know that things are about to change and will happen in less than twenty-four hours.
Everything changes for Ruby Carol Rafferty when the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, pulling America into the war. Now her best friend is being shipped away into an internment camp and her father wants to join the army. The winter holidays are cancelled. A friend whose family fled the Nazis in Europe can’t imagine what happens to those left behind. Follow this young heroine as she navigates a new world, struggling to stand up for those she loves and facing an injustice that derives from poor choices of those in power. Ruby Carol Rafferty has to stand up for those discriminated against as a result of the war and shows, to the stupefaction of more mature characters, that she has what it takes for an inclusive culture, and this isn’t without consequences.
The novel is well written and while it explores a complex story against the backdrop of WWII, it also explores the effects of war on the innocent. Keep Your Songs in Your Heart: A Story of Friendship and Hope During World War II is a novel that highlights the themes of friendship and loyalty, a tale with powerful lessons for children. Deftly plotted and ingeniously accomplished, this novel leaves readers inspired and intimately connected to the protagonist.