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Banjo of Destiny

Written by Cary Fagan

Illustrated by Selcuk Demirel

  • 128 Pages
  • 9781554980864
  • 7.5" x 5"
  • Reading age to 9
  • JUVENILE FICTION / Family / General (see also headings under Social Situations)
  • JUVENILE FICTION / Social Situations / Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance



Publication Date March 05, 2011

Nominee for the 2012 Silver Birch Express Award in the Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading Program.

Jeremiah Birnbaum is stinking rich. He lives in a house with nine bathrooms, a games room, an exercise room, an indoor pool, a hot tub, a movie theater, a bowling alley and a tennis court. His parents, a former hotdog vendor and window cleaner who made it big in dental floss, make sure Jeremiah goes to the very best private school, and that he takes lessons in all the things he will need to know how to do as an accomplished and impressive young man: etiquette lessons, ballroom dancing, watercolor painting. And, of course, classical piano.

Jeremiah complies, because he wants to please his parents. But one day, by chance, he hears the captivating strains of a different kind of music -- the strums, plucks and rhythms of a banjo. It is music that stirs something in Jeremiah's dutiful little soul, and he is suddenly obsessed. And when his parents forbid him to play one, he decides to learn anyway -- even if he has to make the instrument himself.


Cary Fagan
Cary Fagan is an award-winning author of books for children and adults. He has twice been a Toronto Book Award finalist, and he has won the Jewish Book Award and the World Storytelling Award. He has been a finalist for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award, the Mr. Christie’s Book Award, the Norma Fleck Award, the Rocky Mountain Book Award, the Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Award, the Blue Spruce Award and the Silver Birch Express Award. Cary lives with his family in Toronto.

Selcuk Demirel
Selcuk Demirel was born in Artvin, Turkey, in 1954. He moved to Paris in 1978 and still lives there.


"...a low-key charmer." Kirkus Reviews

"This bittersweet novel has just the right touch of wit and creativity to catch and keep the attention of young discerning readers. Thoroughly entwined into the novel is an unusual twist on the economics concept of wants versus needs that will encourage readers to think about what brings true happiness." Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

"...[a] heartfelt novel..." Quill & Quire

"...this sweet, quirky little book hits all the right notes. Highly recommended." CM Magazine

"This has the spirit and cheer of comic melodrama, its fun coming as much from Fagan's breezy asides as from the plot." Toronto Star

"This is a touching and fresh story whose lightness and brevity will engage and empower young readers." Canadian Children's Book News

"There is much that parents and their kids can share in the novel, a quality not easily found in books aimed at adolescents." The Canadian Jewish News

"...warm and cheerful and would be welcomed by anyone with a musical bent..." Sal's Fiction Addiction

"... Fagan presents a sweet, quiet, and neatly packaged tale that emphasizes the importance of hard work and following your dreams in the face of adversity." School Library Journal