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AT ELLIS ISLAND by Louise Peacock


A History in Many Voices

by Louise Peacock & illustrated by Walter Lyon Krudop

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: June 26th, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-689-83026-6
Publisher: Atheneum

The voice of a fictional immigrant girl joins with those of historical narratives and the author’s own to paint a portrait of Ellis Island and the children who passed through it. Ten-year-old Sera Assidian addresses her dead mother in an imaginary letter as she makes her way from the Old World to the New to join her father. Each page turn presents a new facet of the experience, from the food on board the ship to the sight of the Statue of Liberty to the grueling uncertainty of detention at Ellis Island. Sharing the page are thematically selected excerpts from archival sources, photographs and Krudop’s emotional gouaches. Threaded throughout are Peacock’s own musings as she describes her impressions of the Ellis Island National Monument. All this makes for a busy composition, Sera’s narrative rendered in faux-cursive, the archival materials appearing in boxes or different colors and the über-narrative in red—although, irritatingly enough, in changing typefaces. This last element is often ponderous and intrusive, an adult layer over what are children’s voices, and ultimately limits the effectiveness of an otherwise artfully organized whole. (bibliography, websites) (Fictionalized nonfiction. 8-12)