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IS IT NIGHT OR DAY? by Fern Schumer Chapman


A Novel of Immigration and Survival, 1938-1942

by Fern Schumer Chapman & illustrated by Andrew Heber & developed by Literactivity

Age Range: 11 - 13

Pub Date: Feb. 15th, 2012
Publisher: Literactivity

Roughly hewn pedagogical elements are shoveled atop this abbreviated version of a 2010 novel based on the experiences of the author’s mother, a Jewish child sent from Nazi Germany to a hostile reception in this country.

Edith has seen her family go from respectable burghers to “filth, Jews polluting the village.” The 12-year-old is sent to relatives in Chicago; there, her aunt treats her as a servant, schoolmates ignore her or taunt her and the government requires her to register as an “enemy alien.” Blocks of first-person text are recast from the print edition and are accompanied by awkwardly constructed collage-and-watercolor illustrations. Behind buttons fitted around the narrative are several inset featurettes on topics from “Nazi Bullying” to Hank Greenberg. Also available with a tap are multiple video clips of interviews with the author and her mother; these are marked by regrettably poor sound quality. There are as well as pro-and-con considerations for debate questions (misnamed “Case Studies”) like what to do about classroom bullying or “What programs should a public school offer immigrants who do not speak English?” Sprays of stars in the art key short comments and, on occasion, a fading figure representing a departing companion or friend. Audio narration doesn’t always match the text but can be switched on or off at any time, and three strip indexes allow rapid access to any screen or added feature. So plentiful are the added features, however, that oftentimes the central narrative feels pushed to the side.

Ultimately, this rich source of unusual background material on the Holocaust and anti-Semitism in general is marred by low production values. (iPad historical-fiction app. 11-13)