Children's Literature - Jan LiebermanThe story of Ellis Island and how it became the entry point for more than 16 million people between 1892-1954 is a dramatic one. Steven Kroll presents the facts in a rich, readable style that children will understand. The illustrations add immeasurably to children's appreciation of this "gateway" to a new life. Ms. Ritz uses pencil and watercolors to create the effect of the original photos. The faces of the people, hopeful yet frightened, tell their own story which is ongoing.
School Library Journal - School Library JournalGr 2-5-In his attempt to provide a general overview of 200 years of Ellis Island's history, including information about the ``quota system,'' Kroll has had to sacrifice completeness for brevity. His clear text captures the most important facts about this landmark, but some explanations are cut short and some questions are left unanswered. For instance, although the author describes the examination for trachoma as being ``the most feared,'' he neglects to say that infected individuals would most certainly be refused entry to the U.S. The straightforward narrative is well integrated with Ritz's compelling drawings. Many are done in pen and ink, suggesting in their muted sepia tones the historical engravings upon which they are based. Others, executed in pencil and watercolor, provide a welcome variety to the overall appearance of the book, as well as expand upon the text. Much of the information here is covered in Leonard Everett Fisher's Ellis Island (Holiday, 1986) and William Jacobs's Ellis Island (Scribners, 1990). However, Kroll's title could be quite helpful in preparation for visits to the Ellis Island Restoration, and the brief index and glossary make it a worthwhile additional resource for units on immigration.-Martha Rosen, Edgewood School, Scarsdale, NY
Hazel RochmanFacts, dates, and numbers are a strong presence in this general history of Ellis Island, beginning with Colonial times and then focusing on the building of the immigration station and the millions who passed through there when they first came to America. Ritz's illustrations include pen-and-ink drawings of the early period, images from familiar photographs, and color pictures in pencil and watercolor. A few of the collage designs are too crowded, but in most cases the combination conveys the diversity of the crowds and the individual's bewilderment. One powerful picture combines the literacy test cards in many languages and alphabets with the view of one man being interviewed by uniformed officials. The text is flat, but this is one of the few books for young readers that provides a factual overview. Read it with more personal accounts, such as Russell Freedman's classic photo-essay "Immigrant Kids" (1980) and Veronica Lawlor's impressionistic "I Was Dreaming to Come to America".
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