A heartfelt, lovely evocation of one facet of the immigrant experience.

GITTEL'S JOURNEY

AN ELLIS ISLAND STORY

In the last years of the 19th century, 9-year-old Gittel must make the long journey to America alone.

She and Mama say their goodbyes to their family and set off on the trek to the port where they will board the ship to a new world. But Mama is denied passage because of an eye infection. Her mother reminds her that she must be brave, so Gittel gets on the ship alone for the long, frightening journey, clutching the family candlesticks, her rag doll, and that most important slip of paper containing cousin Mendel’s address in New York. Upon arriving at Ellis Island, Mendel’s address is smeared and unreadable, so she is detained there. A kind Yiddish interpreter and a newspaper photographer save the day by placing her photo in a Jewish newspaper, and Mendel comes to claim her. Even greater joy comes when she is reunited with her mother several months later. The tale is based on a combination of stories handed down in the author’s family. Newman tells Gittel’s story with sympathy and tenderness, incorporating Jewish phrases (italicized) and customs and placing within it facts about that time and place. Gittel’s every emotion is felt in Bates’ soft, earth-toned, framed illustrations reminiscent of old-time sepia photographs. Block-print decorations in blue, green, and rust enhance the setting.

A heartfelt, lovely evocation of one facet of the immigrant experience. (glossary, bibliography, websites) (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2747-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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Inspiration, shrink wrapped.

WHAT THE ROAD SAID

From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

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