Based on Yolen’s family history, parallel stories take readers on a journey from the old world to the new in this beautifully formatted offering. Beginning at two distinct and distant dinner tables, the left-hand pages tell the story of seven-year-old Gitl, a Russian Jewish girl whose family hopes to immigrate to the United States, while the right-hand pages follow the dream of Frenchman Frederic Auguste Bartholdi to build a monument in honor of America’s hundredth birthday, the Statue of Liberty. Page by page, repetitive phrasing connects the two seemingly unrelated stories, e.g. “Moving across the ocean…takes time” and “…large dreams take time.” From the planning stages, through delays, frustrations and finally to fruition, two dreams reach their destination “in crates, by train, then boat,” so that Lady Liberty greets Gitl’s family as they sail into New York harbor. While the two stories never completely merge, their spirit and message dovetail to create a heartfelt tribute the American ideal of personal freedom. Illustrated in a rich palette of orange, brown and aqua, realistic oil paintings create a more subtle visual link between the stories through gestures such as the raising of arms at the dinner table, the tilt and expression of two heads, and Bartholdi’s glance across the page as he holds up a picture of Liberty’s torch, as though reassuring the immigrants on the opposite page that their long journey will be well worth it. A fine collaborative effort. Grades 2 – 4.
Teri Markson has been a children’s librarian for over 18 years. She is currently the acting senior librarian at the Valley Plaza Branch Library in North Hollywood, CA.
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