Hope and Tears: Ellis Island Voices

Hope and Tears: Ellis Island Voices

by Gwenyth Swain
     
 

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An original collection of voices, filled with hope and tears, chronicles the history of Ellis Island and the people it served. Indians, settlers, immigrants, inspectors, doctors, nurses, cooks, and social workers all played a big part in that history. Author Gwenyth Swain reimagines the lives of those who landed, lived, and worked on the island through fictional

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Overview

An original collection of voices, filled with hope and tears, chronicles the history of Ellis Island and the people it served. Indians, settlers, immigrants, inspectors, doctors, nurses, cooks, and social workers all played a big part in that history. Author Gwenyth Swain reimagines the lives of those who landed, lived, and worked on the island through fictional letters, monologues, dialogues, and e-mails, basing them on historical documentation and real-life people. In doing so, she creates a moving picture of their struggles and triumphs. Illustrated with poignant and affecting photographs, this is a unique exploration of Ellis Island's history. Includes further resources, bibliography, and source notes.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
An estimated 12 million immigrants passed through Ellis Island between 1892 and 1954. Swain pairs captivating photographs with poems that give voice to some of those individuals, along with short, descriptive essays. One poem is written from the perspective of a Hungarian girl, who arrived at Ellis Island on Christmas Eve 1919 and met “Santa” for the first time. “Oh, how I wished for a teddy bear./ But Santa Claus didn’t speak Hungarian.” Other works convey the agony of being turned away for having trachoma, an eye disease, or for being deemed an “undesirable.” A rich pairing of fact and imagination that provides genuine insight into the immigrant experience. Ages 8–up. (Mar.)
From the Publisher

* "A rich pairing of fact and imagination that provides genuine insight into the immigrant experience." --Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Excellent-quality archival photos or reproductions accompany the entries. A bibliography includes books, articles, interviews, websites, and silent films. This is a welcome companion to other books about Ellis Island, offering a format that can be used for oral presentations, class projects, or simply to read for enjoyment." --School Library Journal

"Most notable for the extraordinary breadth of experiences and points of view presented, from immigrants to detainees, from cooks to carpenters, from photographers to curators. . . . A fascinating experiment in imagining the backstories of individuals mentioned in historical sources, and the curricular potential is considerable." --Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

ALAN Review - Barbara A. Ward
Ellis Island, a small island near New York City, served as an entry point into this nation for twelve million immigrants from 1892 to 1954. Relying on oral histories collected there, the author creates letters, diary entries, poems, monologues, and dialogues to channel the imagined voices of those who passed this way, beginning in 1500 with a Lenni Lenape boy and concluding in 2012 with a National Park Service employee. The six chapters detail the island's history and offer intriguing anecdotes about the contributions some immigrants made to their new home. For instance, an immigrant named Guastavino used 28,832 terra-cotta tiles to cover the ceiling of the Registry Room in 1918. When restoration work began decades later, only 17 tiles had to be replaced. Many of the stories are inspiring yet haunting, perfect for performance pieces. The accompanying photographs show excitement over new beginnings mingled with fear of the unknown. Reviewer: Barbara A. Ward
School Library Journal
Gr 4–8—The voices of the many immigrants who came through Ellis Island come to life as the author tells their stories through imagined letters, diary entries, poems, monologues, and dialogues. Through them readers experience the anticipation and hope of coming to a new country, the tears of families torn apart, and the fear of being turned away. Beginning from the earliest uses of the island by the Lenni Lenape Indians in the 1500s, through the peak of immigration in the early 1900s, to the restoration and opening of a museum in the present day, Swain tells the history of the place and introduces a cast of characters, some real, some imagined, whose stories were gleaned from her extensive research. Excellent-quality archival photos or reproductions accompany the entries. A bibliography includes books, articles, interviews, websites, and silent films. This is a welcome companion to other books about Ellis Island, offering a format that can be used for oral presentations, class projects, or simply to read for enjoyment.—Denise Moore, O'Gorman Junior High School, Sioux Falls, SD
Kirkus Reviews
Readers are invited to recite the thoughts, fears and dreams of all those who came to Ellis Island as immigrants, workers and visitors. It was a place for Lenni Lenape Indians to fish for oysters, a site for hanging pirates, a fort and, most famously, the entry point for 12 million immigrants from Europe. Now it stands as a National Park Service Monument. Swain provides brief historical background for each period and creates short narratives to perform that are based on letters, diaries, oral histories and print resources. Annie Moore from Ireland was the first to be processed. Many more came from Greece, Hungary, Bohemia, Italy, Poland, Russia, Norway, France and Great Britain. They faced health inspectors, photographers, strange foods, dedicated nurses, helpful volunteers and, finally, if they were lucky, the welcome promised by the Statue of Liberty. All of these experiences are captured in monologues or short playlets introduced by short contextualizing notes. Even children of families who came through other entry points will find resonance here. Copiously illustrated with photographs, illustrations and maps, this is a solid resource in an attractive format for those studying immigration and working on oral-history projects. A poem in the voice of a National Park Service worker today says it best: "The sense that, / after all these years, / spirits live here, / along with all their hopes and tears." (source notes, bibliography) (Historical fiction. 8-12)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781590787656
Publisher:
Highlights Press
Publication date:
03/01/2012
Pages:
96
Sales rank:
615,795
Product dimensions:
8.10(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.70(d)
Lexile:
780L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 14 Years

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