Klara's New World

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Written in the first-person, this compelling, original tale of an immigrant family's journey from Sweden to America is aimed at independent readers rather than the usual picture book read-aloud crowd. The story unfolds through the eyes of eight-year-old Klara, and chronicles many of the hurdles to life in a new land. These include the initial, painful decision to leave Sweden, the arduous ocean crossing and steamboat and train trips to Minnesota, ending finally with the family clearing their land, building a sod house, and planting in time for winter. Winter ( Diego ; Follow the Drinking Gourd ), herself the daughter of Swedish immigrants, uses her artist's eye to zero in on telling details, such as the tiny coffin built for a baby who died at sea, and a bag of gentian seeds pressed into Klara's hand by her grandfather, who knows he'll never see her again. Winter's stylized, folk-art-inspired illustrations, rendered in her trademark palette of rich earthtones enlivened by shades of plum and blue, dramatically bring the story to life. An afterword gives a bit of historical background, making the book especially useful for those studying the 19th-century immigrant experience. Ages 7-12. (Sept.)
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-- A heartfelt and totally believable picture-book re-creation of 19th-century immigration as seen through the eyes of a young Swedish girl. With their crops dying and little hope for the future, Klara and her parents leave their homeland for the uncertainty of life in America. After a difficult journey, they arrive in Minnesota, build a cabin, and begin farming the new land. During the winter, Klara's father writes a letter home and Klara encloses a flower that bloomed from seeds her grandfather had given her as a parting gift. Influenced by the letters and diaries of Scandinavian immigrants, Winter keeps the language simple and direct. The situations depicted are ones that will have an impact on a child: preparing food for the journey, the lack of fresh water on board ship, and the appearance of a bird when the ship nears America. Perfectly complementing the text are Winter's arresting full-page illustrations. Executed in what appears to be gouache, the stylized paintings possess a refreshing folk-art quality in which details such as leaves, grass, and waves are handled as repetitive patterns rather than as individual elements. Drawing upon a palette of intense blues, magenta, and lush greens, the artist uses color in a way similar to silk-screened poster art. Equally suited for group sharing or independent reading, this book brings to life an important part of America's history. With Winter's accomplished paintings and accessible story, it's a welcome addition to library shelves. --Denise Anton Wright, Illinois State University, Normal
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679906261
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 9/1/1992
  • Pages: 48
  • Age range: 7 - 12 Years

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