Rebekkah's Journey: A World War II Refugee Storyby Ann E. Burg, Joel Iskowitz
After eluding capture by the Nazis, seven-year-old Rebekkah and her mother are brought from Italy to the United States to begin a new life.
Children's Literature - Debbie LevyDuring World War II, strict quotas written into the U.S. immigration laws kept thousands of European Jews who might otherwise have escaped Nazi persecution from entering the United States. In the summer of 1944, President Franklin Roosevelt found a way around the quotas for nearly 1,000 refugees, whom he invited as "guests" into the country to wait out the rest of the war in upstate New York. The refugees arrived from Italy on a U.S. Army transport ship and were housed in an empty military installation in the town of Oswego, on Lake Ontario. This somber, quiet book imagines the experience of seven-year-old Rebekkah and her mother, fictional Jewish refugees from an unnamed country. Rebekkah's father was taken away from his family by Nazis in Europe. Rebekkah and her mother are seen arriving in New York harbor, on the train to the Oswego refugee center, going through intake procedures at the center, and settling in for their time there. Burg's language is deliberate and doleful. Iskowitz's soft-hued, soft-edged illustrations are full of emotion and depict poignant details, such as the line of refugees, numbered tags hung around their necks by American authorities as they wait to enter the United States. (One pictorial misstep: the text describes the rabbi aboard ship, offering a prayer as the ship enters New York harbor, as having a "long black beard," but the accompanying illustration shows a rabbi with a flowing white beard.) Children who are already fascinated with the Holocaust or World War II should find this story of interest. This book is part of the "Tales of Young Americans" series.
School Library JournalGr 3�5
In 1944, President Roosevelt invited 1000 European displaced persons to stay at an American army base in Oswego, NY. Rebekkah and her mother are two of the Jewish refugees who make the journey, living in the safe but confining conditions of the base. This quiet story is largely based on interviews with former shelter residents, and is told from seven-year-old Rebekkah's point of view. Perhaps because of its basis in long-ago memories, the narrative seems rather dreamy and loosely connected, with little historical context provided. Mystifyingly, it leaves the biggest question unanswered: Why were the refugees kept fenced in once they reached America? The text is not emotionally involving and does not provide enough detail for reports. The illustrations are muddy and dull, and sometimes have the photographic quality of having caught the characters in unattractive moments. Several times, the art directly contradicts descriptions in the text, as when a rabbi with a "long black beard" is pictured with a short white beard. Despite its shortcomings, the book might find a place in collections that focus on Holocaust studies or modern American history. However, it is unlikely to appeal to general readers.
Heidi EstrinCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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