Miri­am’s Jour­ney: Dis­cov­er­ing a New World

Robin K. Levin­son. Drusil­la Kehl, illus
  • Review
By – July 9, 2012

Miriam’s Jour­ney is one of many books writ­ten about the Jew­ish immi­grant expe­ri­ence. Miri­am and her two sis­ters trav­el with their moth­er from their Russ­ian shtetl to join their father in Amer­i­ca. When they arrive, they dis­cov­er that he died while they were en route. Women and chil­dren were not allowed to enter the Unit­ed States with­out some­one who could earn a liv­ing and pro­vide for them. Through the help of a woman they met on board the ship, their sto­ry is told to a reporter for the For­ward. An attor­ney takes their case after read­ing the news­pa­per sto­ry and per­suades a judge to let them set­tle in the Unit­ed States rather than go back to Rus­sia, where they were vic­tim­ized by the pogroms. The sto­ry is told sim­ply with lit­tle detail of their life in the shtetl or on board the ship. The descrip­tion of their expe­ri­ence on Ellis Island, how­ev­er, gives a vivid pic­ture of what com­ing into Amer­i­ca was like for mil­lions of immi­grants. Although the book is titled Miriam’s Jour­ney, Miriam’s old­er sis­ter Ida is a more mem­o­rable char­ac­ter. It is her out­burst in line at Ellis Island makes the peo­ple around her aware of her family’s plight. 

The book is writ­ten to appeal to read­ers in sec­ond through fifth grade, with large print, short chap­ters and col­or illus­tra­tions. The author states that she wrote this book to be the first in a series about girls in Jew­ish his­to­ry to illus­trate the val­ues of kind­ness, respect, char­i­ty, and hon­esty. The val­ues por­trayed in the sto­ry are not pre­sent­ed in a heavy-hand­ed man­ner, but are shown as a nat­ur­al out­growth of the story. 

This series may pro­vide a com­fort­able read­ing expe­ri­ence about Jew­ish his­to­ry for girls who like the Amer­i­can Girl Series. Each book will be accom­pa­nied by a doll. Ages 7 and up.

Susan Dubin was the first librar­i­an hon­ored with a Milken Fam­i­ly Foun­da­tion Jew­ish Edu­ca­tor Award. She is the owner/​director of Off-the-Shelf Library Ser­vices and library instruc­tion­al con­sul­tant at Val­ley Beth Shalom Day School in Enci­no, CA.

Discussion Questions