THE MEMORY COAT

Through the experiences of two children, Rachel and her orphaned cousin Grisha, readers learn why Russian-Jewish families fled to America for refuge at the turn of the century, the arduous 14-day journey they faced on the ocean, and the critical physical inspections that occurred at Ellis Island that could determine their futures. For Rachel’s family, their moment of peril comes when Grisha, whose eye has been scratched, is marked for deportation with chalk on the back of the ragged jacket that was sewn by his mother. Rachel quickly thinks to turn his jacket inside out and he is examined again, by a kinder doctor, and is allowed to stay with the family. Dooling’s dramatic oil paintings reflect the fears and hopes of not only Rachel’s family, but of all immigrants who arrived at Ellis Island hoping for freedom from religious persecution and for more prosperous futures. Woodruff (The Orphan of Ellis Island, 1997, etc.) includes information about on her inspiration for this book, the atrocities of life in Russia, and the history of Ellis Island since its opening in 1892. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-67717-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1999

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WAITING FOR BABY

One of a four-book series designed to help the very young prepare for new siblings, this title presents a toddler-and-mother pair (the latter heavily pregnant) as they read about new babies, sort hand-me-downs, buy new toys, visit the obstetrician and the sonographer, speculate and wait. Throughout, the child asks questions and makes exclamations with complete enthusiasm: “How big is the baby? What does it eat? I felt it move! Is it a boy or girl?” Fuller’s jolly pictures present a biracial family that thoroughly enjoys every moment together. It’s a bit oversimplified, but no one can complain about the positive message it conveys, appropriately, to its baby and toddler audience. The other titles in the New Baby series are My New Baby (ISBN: 978-1-84643-276-7), Look at Me! (ISBN: 978-1-84643-278-1) and You and Me (ISBN: 978-1-84643-277-4). (Board book. 18 mos.-3)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-84643-275-0

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Child's Play

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2010

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The rare immigrant chronicle that is as long on hope as it is on heartbreak.

INFINITE COUNTRY

A 15-year-old girl in Colombia, doing time in a remote detention center, orchestrates a jail break and tries to get home.

"People say drugs and alcohol are the greatest and most persuasive narcotics—the elements most likely to ruin a life. They're wrong. It's love." As the U.S. recovers from the repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, from the misery of separations on the border, from both the idea and the reality of a wall around the United States, Engel's vital story of a divided Colombian family is a book we need to read. Weaving Andean myth and natural symbolism into her narrative—condors signify mating for life, jaguars revenge; the embattled Colombians are "a singed species of birds without feathers who can still fly"; children born in one country and raised in another are "repotted flowers, creatures forced to live in the wrong habitat"—she follows Talia, the youngest child, on a complex journey. Having committed a violent crime not long before she was scheduled to leave her father in Bogotá to join her mother and siblings in New Jersey, she winds up in a horrible Catholic juvie from which she must escape in order to make her plane. Hence the book's wonderful first sentence: "It was her idea to tie up the nun." Talia's cross-country journey is interwoven with the story of her parents' early romance, their migration to the United States, her father's deportation, her grandmother's death, the struggle to reunite. In the latter third of the book, surprising narrative shifts are made to include the voices of Talia's siblings, raised in the U.S. This provides interesting new perspectives, but it is a little awkward to break the fourth wall so late in the book. Attention, TV and movie people: This story is made for the screen.

The rare immigrant chronicle that is as long on hope as it is on heartbreak.

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982159-46-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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THE PARTY

A girl and her sister start off rather glumly in the back seat of the car, leaving all their friends behind, because they are off to a family party. When they arrive, they are kissed by Aunt Joan—the worst—and then there is more kissing and a bunch of cousins just hanging around. But the kids start sharing war stories (hair cuts, lost teeth, split lips) and playing shark on the lawn; there are hideouts under Uncle John’s chair and potato-chip thievery; and then there is all that food beloved of family gatherings, for it is Gran’s birthday. At the end, of course, no one wants to go home. In sprightly rhyme, Reid captures the range of experience, from initial wariness to high hilarity, present at parties full of relatives. Her illustrations, done in painted Plasticine on board, have a wonderful texture, making a Hawaiian shirt, three-bean salad, and Mary Jane shoes pop out of the page. A treat. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-97801-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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