Emma Kagen is a Jewish girl, growing up in New York City in 1885. Emma is hired by a local haberdashery to deliver a hat to a department store across town. Despite a few setbacks along the way, she establishes a friendship with a homeless African American boy named Ambrose. Emma is also interested in the city’s fundraising for a pedestal for the Statue of Liberty — an effort in which she and Ambrose become unexpectedly involved. Emma is an appealing character who comes across as a real girl, not unrealistically heroic, but strong, capable, and likeable. The descriptions of the city are vivid and compelling.
Without being preachy, Liberty on 23rd Street offers a history lesson about New York City, the Statue of Liberty, as well as the struggle of African Americans during this time period. Liberty on 23rd Street has the flavor and appeal of an American Girl book, and is a worthwhile read for both Jewish and non-Jewish readers. For ages 8 – 12.