Around the turn of the last century, a Greek village girl wears her beloved red dress as she goes about her daily life only to be separated from it when the family emigrates.
The child and her dress lead a seemingly idyllic, nature-filled life under blue skies, among whitewashed buildings, but they long for adventure. For unexplained reasons, the family boards a ship, where girl and dress play and go to school as before, details that subtly convey the length of the passage. Upon arrival at Ellis Island, the family is separated from the trunk in which the dress is now packed. The trunk, unclaimed, circles the globe in search of its rightful owners, eventually landing in a secondhand shop. Now grown, the girl spots her dress in the window and buys it for her own daughter. Morstad’s (House of Dreams, 2018, etc.) clean illustrations expertly evoke the era through a nostalgic color palette and the (unnamed) locations through carefully chosen details. The opening and closing spreads echo each other, reinforcing the theme of connection. Immigrant stories are perennially relevant, and the rarely seen 20th-century Greek setting is refreshing. However, the dress—while attributed human feelings—never generates enough emotion to create dramatic tension, and readers are not shown the impact on the family of starting a new life without most of their worldly possessions.
A gentle tale well-suited for family-history and creative-writing units. (Picture book. 4-8)