Echo (Scholastic Press, 2015) by Pam Muñoz Ryan is a 2016 Newbery Honor book--my vote is for the top award as it is so amazing.
Four stories, four different time periods, different cultures, and a prophecy, a promise and a harmonica are all woven together in an unexpected way. Otto's story is very short, but it kicks off with mystery when he gets lost in the forest. He must pass the harmonica on at the right time. Over sixty years later we meet Friedrich struggling with hiding his birthmark in a country gone crazy labeling someone like him a defective--welcome to Nazi Germany. He finds and passes on the harmonica. Next we jump two years later to an orphanage for destitute children in Pennsylvania to be with Mike who is trying to make sure he and his little brother stay together . . . somehow. Again, the harmonica plays an important part. Seven years later we meet Ivy in California dealing with prejudice for her Hispanic background and another family's Japanese heritage. The harmonica comes to her, too.
Each of the three main stories were heart-jerking and so important for kids (and adults) today to hear. I love how the book is resolved. This really is a must read! (It's also a New York Times bestseller.)
The author is an eclectic writer with books in the following categories: novels, picture books, early readers, and short stories in anthologies. Learn more about her here.