THE MEMORY COAT by Elvira Woodruff


Age Range: 7 - 10
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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 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-590-67717-9
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Scholastic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1999