Junkman's Daughterby Sonia Levitin
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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.
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
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