Eleven-year-old Benny Feldman spends his days at Sieberling School obeying his number-one rule for surviving sixth grade: blend into the background.
So when he signs up his klezmer band to play in the school talent show, his classmates are shocked. Teased by guitar superstar and former friend Jason Conroy, Benny vows to win the trophy and erase the embarrassing nickname that has haunted him since his disastrous debut performance in a first-grade Sabbath play.
But, there is a problem. Benny Feldman’s All-Star Klezmer Band is only a figment of Benny’s imagination. He loves the traditional klezmer music of Eastern Europe, but how is he going to find other players to join him?
With the show a few months away, Benny, an accomplished fiddler, embarks on a quest to assemble a band that will beat Jason’s rock group at the talent show. His search takes him to an arcade convention, a potato chip factory, an oddities shop, and a storage room stacked with cans of creamed corn and succotash. Along the way he meets Jennifer, a jazz-loving drummer; Royce, a bow-tie-wearing clarinet prodigy; and Stuart, a braggart accordion player from Cajun Country. He also learns a great deal about the joys and sorrows that lie at the heart of klezmer and discovers that being different can be wonderful.
Eventually, the ragtag and renamed “Klez Misfits” mount the stage and the tension-filled climax will have young listeners wondering until the end if Benny and his band can pull off a miracle.
This fun, feel-good story shows how friends, family, history and culture can all build confidence. Benny learns to believe in himself and has fun and finds love along the way.
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