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Children's LiteratureSofia's entrance to the United States was far from enjoyable. Her excitement on seeing the Statue of Liberty turned to fear and anger. After a three-week trip on the boat from Italy, she was separated from her family and put into quarantine due to an eye injury that the doctors labeled highly infectious. Although Sofia's experience was not the norm, 20% of the immigrants coming through Ellis Island in the early 1900s were detained due to vague reasons. Corrupt officials would accept bribes and sell illegal citizenship papers. Unable to communicate and eat the food, Sofia fortunately met another nine-year-old girl from Ireland who was also being sequestered due to an eye injury. One of the nurses was especially mean—yelling at the patients, stealing from them, and making their lives miserable. An illusive gypsy boy, who was also being detained but had "escaped" and was hiding from the authorities, showed the girls trash bins with stolen goods. Baggage helpers and dishonest inspectors stole the immigrants' property right off the boats and sold them to people in New York City. Finally the girls were "rescued" and reunited with their families. This book is part of the series, "My America," and includes historical notes and pictures. 2003, Scholastic, Ages 9 to 11.
—Janet L. Rose