Margit’s Canadian immigration story continues with the arrival of her Holocaust- survivor father in Toronto. As in the first book, the author does not shy away from this difficult theme. While the treatment is gentle, Kacer depicts Margit’s father as haggard and suffering from nightmares, and has Canadian-born characters speak critically of the obstacles their government has placed in the path of Jewish immigrants, an unusual and daring approach in children’s series fiction. The overall tone of the book is light, even formulaic in a satisfying way, but these touches of reality raise the book above the usual level of mere series fiction. A secondary theme of Margit’s school problems provides dramatic tension while showcasing another historical trend: the strong belief in education of immigrants in general and Jews in particular. The Canadian setting and Torontonian place names will make the story cozily familiar to Canadian readers and pleasantly exotic to others, but the storyline is universal and can be enjoyed by any English-speaking reader. While Margit mentions attending synagogue, the family does not engage in any Jewish activities during the course of the story. However, the characters’ use of Yiddish, their experiences, and their values are all obviously Jewish, and the book does a fine job of depicting a typical slice of Jewish life in post-war North America. A good choice (along with Book One) for libraries serving younger elementary school children. Grades 2 – 4.
Heidi Estrin is librarian for the Feldman Children’s Library at Congregation B’nai Israel in Boca Raton, FL. She is a past chair of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee for the Association of Jewish Libraries.