Written by Pam Munoz Ryan

Lost in the Black Forest, Otto meets three mysterious sisters and finds himself entwined in a prophecy, a promise, and a harmonica–and decades later three children, Friedrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania, and Ivy in California find themselves caught up in the same thread of destiny in the darkest days of the twentieth century, struggling to keep their families intact, and tied together by the music of the same harmonica.

Primary Source Pairing:
Echo is a masterpiece with primary source pairing opportunities woven through each of the stories that complete this rich novel. For many students, Echo may be intimidating by its size and content. Pairing primary sources with the book creates necessary background knowledge to understand historical concepts such as Nazi Germany and Natural Selection, The Great Depression and orphanages of that time, and the Japanese internment camps and farm worker school segregation laws. The audiobook is complete with recordings of the musical pieces played by the characters throughout the book. To guide students through analysis of musical recordings, use the Library of Congress Primary Source Analysis tool for Sound Recordings.

For this primary source pairing, use the sheet music above to analyze the piece Fur Elise as written for a harmonica player, originally composed by Beethoven. Collaborate with a music teacher or musical student to play the piece on different instruments.

Questions for Discussion:

  • Describe what you see on the cover.
  • What kind of design or image is printed on the document?
  • Does anything on the page look strange or unfamiliar?
  • What names or places appear in the lyrics?
  • Do you see anything on the page besides writing?
  • What other details do you notice?
  • If you know the melody, sing or hum it. What do you notice about how it sounds?

Book Cover and Summary: Follett
Für Elise Harmonica Sheet Music: Easy Music

To watch or listen to a YouTube view of a harmonica playing Für Elise, click here.

For more information, visit Pam Munoz Ryan’s website.