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Benny Feldman's All-Star Klezmer Band

Benny signs up for the school talent show, but he has two big problems: 1) the last time he was on stage he wrecked the whole play, and 2) how can his band perform when he doesn’t have a band?
Ages 10+
Pages 208
Publisher Green Bean Books
Coming Nov 2020
Awards
PJ Our Way Author Incentive Award Winner

Average Rating

22 Reviews
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More than anything, Benny Feldman loves playing klezmer music on his violin. He never plays in public, though; ever since he ruined the Hebrew school play, he tries to blend into the background. So when he impulsively signs up his klezmer band to perform in the school talent show, his classmates are shocked, and so is Benny – especially since he hasn’t got a band. Determined to put his past humiliation behind him and silence the taunts of his former friend (current enemy), Benny sets out to form a klezmer band and win the talent show trophy.

  • Klezmer music plays a major role in this book. Benny and his Uncle Maxwell talk about its background and about different klezmer musicians. There are many scenes describing the style of the music when Benny and his are friends are playing it, as well as plenty of Yiddish phrases and expressions sprinkled into the conversations between Benny and his uncle.
  • Through Uncle Maxwell’s stories about Benny’s great-great-grandfather Moshe, readers learn details of life as a klezmer musician in Eastern Europe.
  • Benny goes to Hebrew school, there is a detailed description of the family’s Hanukkah celebration, and the Feldmans go to synagogue on Yom Kippur and have a seder at Passover. Uncle Maxwell plays a classical piece, ‘Kaddisch’ by Maurice Ravel, at his grandparents’ funeral after the Mourner’s Kaddish is recited.

  • Benny has been terrified of performing in public ever since he ruined the Hebrew school play back in first grade. But he stands up to his fears and decides to get back up on stage – even if that means he humiliates himself again. Benny also welcomes Stuart into the band even though Stuart has been arrogant and unlikeable, because he can see that Stuart is really just unhappy and lonely.
  • Jennifer hears Jason taunting Benny about not having a band and quickly says she is the drummer, assessing the situation and standing up for Benny even though they’ve just met. Jennifer, a female jazz drummer, and Royce, an African-American clarinet player who wears bowties, are unafraid to be true to themselves even if that means they don’t fit in with the crowd. They encourage Benny and stand by him even though they know Benny’s fear of performing could mean humiliation for them all.   

None.

One of the people who has been mean to Benny in the past and called him names has a bad experience herself at the talent show, at which point people start calling her names. Benny intervenes and tells everyone to stop. Would you defend someone who had been mean to you if people were unkind to them? Why or why not?

Klezmer isn’t just popular at Jewish weddings. It has made its way into popular culture in songs such as “Bei Mir Bistu Shein” by the Andrews Sisters – mentioned in Benny Feldman’s All-Star Klezmer Band – and jazz tunes such as “And the Angels Sing” by Benny Goodman, based on the klezmer dance tune “Der Shtiler Bulgar” and on the album In the Fiddler’s House by Itzhak Perlman. Furthermore, Royce, the clarinetist in Benny’s band, isn’t the only African-American klezmer musician. One of the most respected American klezmer performers is clarinetist Don Byron, who was one of the original members of the Klezmer Conservatory Band. He went on to make the album Don Byron Plays the Music of Mickey Katz, performing Mickey Katz’s “Wedding Dance” on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
What the Book Is About

More than anything, Benny Feldman loves playing klezmer music on his violin. He never plays in public, though; ever since he ruined the Hebrew school play, he tries to blend into the background. So when he impulsively signs up his klezmer band to perform in the school talent show, his classmates are shocked, and so is Benny – especially since he hasn’t got a band. Determined to put his past humiliation behind him and silence the taunts of his former friend (current enemy), Benny sets out to form a klezmer band and win the talent show trophy.

  • Klezmer music plays a major role in this book. Benny and his Uncle Maxwell talk about its background and about different klezmer musicians. There are many scenes describing the style of the music when Benny and his are friends are playing it, as well as plenty of Yiddish phrases and expressions sprinkled into the conversations between Benny and his uncle.
  • Through Uncle Maxwell’s stories about Benny’s great-great-grandfather Moshe, readers learn details of life as a klezmer musician in Eastern Europe.
  • Benny goes to Hebrew school, there is a detailed description of the family’s Hanukkah celebration, and the Feldmans go to synagogue on Yom Kippur and have a seder at Passover. Uncle Maxwell plays a classical piece, ‘Kaddisch’ by Maurice Ravel, at his grandparents’ funeral after the Mourner’s Kaddish is recited.

  • Benny has been terrified of performing in public ever since he ruined the Hebrew school play back in first grade. But he stands up to his fears and decides to get back up on stage – even if that means he humiliates himself again. Benny also welcomes Stuart into the band even though Stuart has been arrogant and unlikeable, because he can see that Stuart is really just unhappy and lonely.
  • Jennifer hears Jason taunting Benny about not having a band and quickly says she is the drummer, assessing the situation and standing up for Benny even though they’ve just met. Jennifer, a female jazz drummer, and Royce, an African-American clarinet player who wears bowties, are unafraid to be true to themselves even if that means they don’t fit in with the crowd. They encourage Benny and stand by him even though they know Benny’s fear of performing could mean humiliation for them all.   

None.

One of the people who has been mean to Benny in the past and called him names has a bad experience herself at the talent show, at which point people start calling her names. Benny intervenes and tells everyone to stop. Would you defend someone who had been mean to you if people were unkind to them? Why or why not?

Klezmer isn’t just popular at Jewish weddings. It has made its way into popular culture in songs such as “Bei Mir Bistu Shein” by the Andrews Sisters – mentioned in Benny Feldman’s All-Star Klezmer Band – and jazz tunes such as “And the Angels Sing” by Benny Goodman, based on the klezmer dance tune “Der Shtiler Bulgar” and on the album In the Fiddler’s House by Itzhak Perlman. Furthermore, Royce, the clarinetist in Benny’s band, isn’t the only African-American klezmer musician. One of the most respected American klezmer performers is clarinetist Don Byron, who was one of the original members of the Klezmer Conservatory Band. He went on to make the album Don Byron Plays the Music of Mickey Katz, performing Mickey Katz’s “Wedding Dance” on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.