Macmillan (now Viking), 1971
The sound of a harmonica floats through the halls of Sam and Ben’s tenement. The sweet melodies inspire the brothers to explore the building, which is filled with the sounds and smells of a diverse city. Finally, the brothers find the source of the beautiful music, along with a blind man who “sees” with his ears, and the search ends in a new friendship.
Take a Closer Look
The moods of Apt. 3 set it apart from Keats’s other “neighborhood” books. The story takes place in a tenement much like Ezra’s when he was a boy. Rain is falling like a curtain hiding the world outside. Sam and Ben are listening at their neighbors’ doors, trying to find the source of the jazz harmonica they’ve been hearing. They make their search an adventure, complete with a hint of danger—they hide under the stairs from the super, and cautiously trace the music to Apt. 3. Inside, the blind musician begins to play, and everything changes. Bright colors and sounds, no longer muted by the rain, stream in as if from a sunlit world. Sam’s face, previously seen in shadow, is open and happy as he asks if the musician will take a walk with him the next day.