Friday, January 9, 2009

Review: At Ellis Island: A History in Many Voices by Louise Peacock

genre: historical children's literature
rating: 4/5

I read this one out loud to my 8 1/2 year old daughter, at her request. I'd actually bought the book for myself; I have a very soft spot in my heart for Ellis Island and immigration stories in general, since my Great-Grandmother's family immigrated here from Czechoslovakia at the turn of the century.

The book is set up as a series of quotes of actual immigrants who came to America during Ellis Island's busiest period, as well as quotes by people who were employed there at the time. They are interspersed with a fictionalized account of one girl, following her in letters as she leaves Armenia to come alone to the U.S. to meet her father. There are also short bits about what Ellis Island looks like to a visitor today.

The quotes are fascinating and often moving. The young girl's storyline provides a good framework for understanding the start to finish process of immigration during the time. I found the format, though, a bit confusing. I think if it had been all quotes, or just the letters in a picture book, it would've flowed better for me. My daughter though, wasn't bothered by it at all. I kept trying to show her when I was switching between letters and quotes and she finally stopped me short telling me, "I get it, Mom!" Maybe I've just read too many novels :)

This is an interesting introduction to immigration history in America for young people. I do recommend it.

1 comment:

LisaMay said...

The cover of the book is enchanting enough to make me want to pick it up! Seriously, that is some beautiful design work there.

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