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ESCAPING TO AMERICA by Rosalyn  Schanzer


A True Story

by Rosalyn Schanzer & illustrated by Rosalyn Schanzer

Age Range: 7 - 9

Pub Date: Aug. 31st, 2000
ISBN: 0-688-16989-9
Publisher: HarperCollins

In Poland during the early part of the 20th, century mobs often stopped elderly, harmless Jews on the street, beating them up or smashing their shops. At any time, the Polish army might “take all men of fighting age away from their families, never to be seen again.” Abba and Pearl Goodstein decided in 1918 that they must leave Poland and head for America. Three years went by before Abba’s older sister, who had moved to America 14 years earlier, had finally collected all the documents they needed. Leaving most of their possessions and all of their money, they loaded everything they could under a false bottom in a hay wagon, tied their pet cow to it, and pretended to be farmers going to the fields. Abba hid under the pile of hay and ran and hid when they heard soldiers coming. Arriving in Plinsk in plenty of time to get the train to Danzig, where their ship was waiting, further miseries lay in store. Steerage has been described in many books, but never so clearly for this younger age group. But the family made it to America and eventually to Tennessee. Telling her family’s story, Schanzer draws pictures with words as well as with her art. Straightforward in execution, her illustrations convey the struggle without overloading the issues. On oversized pages, they alternate between two or three small vignettes and full-page spreads, sometimes stretching across two pages. Lots of white space for text and borders around the pictures adds an open feeling. Together, words and pictures present a frank and clear-cut introduction to Jewish immigration to America. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)