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Yolanda is a great big girl and strong for her age, bigger and stronger and smarter than anyone else in the fifth grade. She is cool and streetwise, too, and afraid of no one. It’s easy for her to watch out for her little, first-grade brother, Andrew. But their mother, a legal professional and a widow, is concerned about crime and drugs in her children’s Chicago school. She moves them all to a smaller and, she hopes, smaller town.
Yolanda, at first, is scornful of her new town. And Andrew, who never talks much, is having trouble learning to read. What he loves to do is play on the old harmonica given to him as a baby by his father to teethe on and which he’s kept blowing ever since. He can imitate any sound he hears, like bacon sizzling, or express any mood he feels, like the freshness of an early morning. Yolanda understands that that’s the way he “talks.” She is convinced Andrew is a true genius with a great musical gift.…[more]