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Junkman's Daughter

Overview

Even before they immigrate to America, Hanna and her family dream of the new life they will have there. "You will see, Hanna," Papa said. "There are streets of gold." But when they arrive, they find life very different from what they had imagined. Their apartment is small and Hanna and her brothers must sleep on a mattress on the floor. Mama spends her days knitting shawls and sweaters to sell on the streets but no one stops to buy. And Papa can find no work. Hanna looks everywhere for the gold Papa promised them...
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Junkman's Daughter

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Overview

Even before they immigrate to America, Hanna and her family dream of the new life they will have there. "You will see, Hanna," Papa said. "There are streets of gold." But when they arrive, they find life very different from what they had imagined. Their apartment is small and Hanna and her brothers must sleep on a mattress on the floor. Mama spends her days knitting shawls and sweaters to sell on the streets but no one stops to buy. And Papa can find no work. Hanna looks everywhere for the gold Papa promised them but it is not to be found. What will happen to their dream of a new, better life in America? One day a seemingly insignificant find on a slushy street leads to an opportunity for a brighter future. And like many others before them, Hanna and her family realize that through small steps and hard work they can make their American dream come true.
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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Carlee Hallman
Hanna's father tells her and her two younger brothers that, in America, there are "streets of gold." When the family arrives, however, they rent a two room apartment. Father, who was a school teacher in the old country, has no work. Hanna is angry. Where are the streets of gold? Life looks dismal, until the sun shines on the snow with a "soft, golden light." Then Hanna finds something under the snow. The children and father begin to collect bottles, cans, and other trash, which Father turns into cash. Soon they have a wagon, then an old truck, and then a newly-painted red truck with "Abram & Family" in golden letters on the door. In the last picture an adult Hanna in a modern office looks out the window on a large truck. The colorful illustrations catch the emotions of the family on their faces. This is one of the "Tales of Young Americans" series. The story encourages belief in the vanishing American dream. Reviewer: Carlee Hallman
School Library Journal

K-Gr 2- A family leaves an unspecified "old country" to make their way in America. The clothing and automobile styles appear to root the story in the 1930s or 1940s, although the exact time period is not specified. In their new home, the father questions his decision to uproot his family. A chance discovery of returnable bottles on the street starts him on a new career as a junk man. His sons and daughter help him collect glass, metal, paper, rags, and other trash, and the family gradually builds a profitable business. Although sweet, the story is oversimplified. The home they leave looks clean and prosperous. The family members wear nice clothing and shoes; the house has furniture, books, and paintings. Their stated reason for leaving is economic, but the father cannot teach in America since he does not speak English. Religious or political persecution is not mentioned. The illustrations are done in a warm, glowing style that amplifies the family's love and closeness. In this idealized setting, being the junk man's daughter doesn't appear to be so bad, even when wealthier classmates make fun of her. The story does have value, however, for teaching economic lessons. The family begins by collecting on foot; soon they are able to buy a wagon, then later a used truck. As they invest their profits, they are able to make their company grow exponentially. Nostalgically evocative, this title might be useful for immigration or economic units.-Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA

Kirkus Reviews
Levitin's tale of a hardworking immigrant family pulling itself up to prosperity through hard times is inspiring, if hobbled by bland illustrations and flawed page design. Papa's claim that America's streets are made of gold carries the family over from the (unspecified, but European) old country to the big city. Mama's steady optimism takes over when his enthusiasm wears down, and it's the eldest daughter who spots the discarded bottles and other rubbish in the snowy street that, industriously collected, sorted and sold, sparks the slow but steady growth of a successful business. That rubbish looks brand new in the art, though, as does the spacious urban setting, the tidy interiors and the clothing on the shiny-faced protagonists. Along with providing little sense of what immigrant neighborhoods actually looked like in the 20th-century's early years and giving no visual clue of the family's poverty, the illustrations don't always leave space for the daughter's narrative-which on one page [the penultimate spread], at least, is almost drowned by the busy background. Too bad: The story is an important American one that merits every iteration it receives. (Picture book. 6-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781585363155
  • Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2007
  • Series: Tales of Young Americans
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 440L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 11.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

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