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School Library Journal
In 1920, 10-year-old Sammy Levin and his teenage sister, Malka, sail from Poland to America to be reunited with their father. Upon their arrival at Ellis Island, Malka is held back because of a persistent cough, but after a suspenseful few days, doctors rule out consumption and the siblings are allowed to enter the United States. This story of their adjustment is reminiscent of Amy Hest's When Jessie Came across the Sea (Candlewick, 1997) and Patricia Reilly Giff's Water Street (Random, 2006), although Arato focuses on a male protagonist and how he navigates the various gangs in his Lower East Side neighborhood. The author describes how each character comes to terms with being together again as a family, nicely weaving in Jewish traditions as well as the customs and cultural mix of their new country. Despite rather two-dimensional characters, this is a richly detailed, solid piece of historical fiction that gives insight into the early-20th-century immigrant experience. Purchase this novel where there is high interest in fiction covering this period and be prepared to booktalk it to get kids past the humdrum title (which refers to one of Sammy's favorite things about America: vanilla ice cream) and not-very-appealing cover art.
—Kim DareCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.