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Children's LiteratureThe history of the United States can be told in the form of a series of stories about people making long journeys across enormous distances and often with great difficulties to a land where untold unknowns lay ahead of them. It all began with the ancestors of the Native American tribes who set about founding their settlements. It could not have seemed too soon for these people that Europeans began to arrive; men with pale skins who were not content to leave things are they were but were insistent on change and on possessing that which was not theirs to own. These first Europeans soon stopped being mere explorers and traders and became instead colonists; English, Dutch, Spanish, German, Irish, French, and the slaves that served them. Each group of colonists brought with them their language and their traditions, their religions and their culture and for a while they lived apart. But, this state of affairs could not last and it was not long before what was to be called "the melting pot" began to come together and cultures began to mix and meld in a way that would never have been possible "at home." What is fascinating about this book is to read about the many migrations that took place at different times. There was not one Irish migration but several, and several German migrations as well. Different events in the home country caused its people to seek new opportunities in the United States at different times. For example a war might have driven people to leave and then an economic depression one hundred years later might have had the same effect. We read too, about how unwelcome many immigrants were made to feel. The Irish, Jews, Japanese, Chinese, and Mexicans have all been made to feelunwelcome at one time or another despite the great contributions they have made to the people and the overall culture of the United States. Even after fighting for the American cause in its wars certain American minorities have still had to fight for their rights to be treated with dignity and respect. The lot of the immigrant is often a difficult one. Perhaps the most engaging aspect of this volume is the way in which the authors have used personal accounts. We can the read the very words of young people and old describing their experiences as immigrants. Many of them suffered a great deal and we cannot but feel respect and admiration for their determination to make a life for themselves in this "land of opportunity." Some did not survive but gave up their lives on American soil soon after arriving upon it. These first hand stories are very powerful and memorable. Filled with annotated photos, illustrations, and prints this is a book which will offer the reader an enormous amount of information. 2003, Scholastic, Ages 12 up.
— Marya Jansen-Gruber