Gabriel's Horn

  • Interest Level: Preschool - Grade 3
  • Reading Level: Grade 2

A mysterious soldier appears at the door hands Gabriel a tarnished horn, and disappears. As the years go by, Gabriel’s family prospers and they, in turn, help their neighbors. Could their good luck have something to do with the soldier or the horn?

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Interest Level Preschool - Grade 3
Reading Level Grade 2
Genre Picture Books
Copyright 2016
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Kar-Ben Publishing ®
Language English
Number of Pages 32
Publication Date 2016-08-01
Text Type Fiction
BISACS JUV033020, JUV039220, JUV022000
Dewey [E]
Graphics Full-color illustrations
Dimensions 9.25 x 11
Lexile 550
Features Awards and Reviewed

Author: Eric A. Kimmel

Eric A. Kimmel has been writing for children for more than 40 years. His 100-plus titles include such classics as Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock and The Chanukkah Guest. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

Illustrator: Maria Surducan

Maria Surducan works as a freelance ilustrator and comic book author from her studio in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. She has illustrated three graphic novels and several picture books.


  • Sydney Taylor Book Award Notable, Commended, 2017


AJL Newsletter

“Kimmel first adapted I.L. Peretz’s story ‘Seven Years’ for his collection Days
of Awe: Stories for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur
(Viking Press, 1991). Here is
another version of the story in picture book format with a modern boy as the main
character and a horn instead of a samovar. As Gabriel’s family is preparing for
Rosh Hashanah, a US Army soldier appears at their door. He asks them to keep his
grandfather’s French horn safe for him while he serves overseas. While the family
owns an antique shop, Gabriel’s mom is hesitant to take on the responsibility of storing the instrument. Gabriel convinces her after the soldier promises that the horn will bring them good luck. He then vanishes before they can ask him his name. The horn is black and tarnished and no matter how hard she tries, Gabriel’s mother is unable to polish it. But, when Gabriel gives tzedakah (charity) to two girls collecting for the poor, a streak of polished brass shines on the bell of the horn. As time passes, good luck and fortune follow the family and they, in turn, perform mitzvot (good deeds): they help to build a new playground in their neighborhood, they buy furniture for a new immigrant family, and they donate to the local food pantry. And with each good deed, the horn’s tarnish slowly disappears. After seven years, the soldier returns and says: ‘Do you know how old this horn is? It’s older than the world. In all the time this horn existed, no one ever used its blessing better than your family. That old horn never shined brighter than it does now. You’ve earned the right to keep it.’ The soldier again vanishes but not before Gabriel figures out who he really is―the prophet Elijah (the name on the soldier’s uniform―—Tishbi—gives astute readers a clue)! The textured, multi-dimensional illustrations, with vibrant reds and purples, beautifully depict a multi-cultural, contemporary urban setting. ‘The Samovar’ in Days of Awe still makes for a nice read-aloud but this illustrated edition will introduce the timeless tale to a new audience. The Rosh Hashanah tie-in will make it a welcome addition to the holiday bookshelf but the story can be enjoyed all year long to discuss the Jewish value of tzedakah.”—AJL

Jewish Journal

“Times are tough, economically, for Gabriel and his family this Rosh Hashanah―their antique store and other neighborhood businesses are on the verge of shutting down. As a round challah is baking in the oven, a U.S. Army soldier (astute readers will note his name tag reads ‘Tishbi’ — as in ‘Eliayhu ha-Tishbi,’ Prophet Elijah, the Tishbite) knocks on the door hoping to find a place to store a precious family heirloom while he is on duty overseas. He tells Gabriel and his mother that this old French horn brings good luck. They do their best to clean it, but it remains stubbornly tarnished. However, as time passes, the family’s good fortune improves as they perform various mitzvot and give tzedakah throughout their neighborhood. After seven years, the soldier returns, opens the case and is astonished to see how shiny his old horn has become, and offers it to Gabriel as a gift. This story about the importance of tzedakah and Elijah the Prophet is loosely adapted by famed children’s author Eric Kimmel from Yiddish writer I.L. Peretz’s story titled ‘Seven Good Years.’”—Jewish Journal

Kirkus Reviews

“A moving update of a powerful story.” — Kirkus Reviews