67. Journey to America by Sonia Levitin

Journey to America by Sonia Levitin. Illustrated by Charles Robinson. (Canada) - (US)
The Platt Family Trilogy

Pages: 150
Ages: 8+
Finished: Mar. 15, 2011
First Published: 1970
Publisher: Atheneum
Genre: children, historical fiction, WWII, 1930s
Rating: 3.5/5

First sentence:

That winter had been the coldest and the longest I had ever known.

Acquired: I'm pretty sure I Bookmooched this book.

Reason for Reading: read aloud to the 10yo as part of our history curriculum.

This is a gentle, quiet story that is suitable for younger children (as a read loud) since it deals with the very early days of Hitler's Germany, making one aware of the need for escape in those early days and how fortunate were those who did manage to leave Germany before the atrocities began. The story is told from Lisa's point of view, the second oldest girl of three, perhaps 11 years old. Their father has decided that they will leave for America, so he goes first in order to get a job, a place to live and earn enough money for the tickets for boat passage for the others. Lisa, Ruth (the older sister), little Annie and mother must now fend for themselves until the time comes.

The reader learns what it was like in Germany for the Jews in those early days as their rights were slowly being taken from them. Then father tells them they must go to Switzerland for safety immediately and here the majority of the book takes place as the three girls and the mother are separated from each other as they are looked after by different refugee helper families. They don't loose contact though and life goes on through this tough and emotional time for them until finally just after hearing devastating news from Berlin, Father sends the boat tickets for them to join him.

An interesting story, full more of personal drama set against the background of a turbulent time rather than outside drama of the era since we are only at the very beginnings of Hitler's Germany here. A tale that tells the pressure of leaving one's home and becoming refugee status in another country, accepting help but really unable to do much for oneself, the waiting for the future to come and the worry for the loved ones left behind. A nice story, ds and I both enjoyed it well.

The art on the otherhand leaves something to be desired. I'll admit I've never been fond of Charles Robinson. His pictures are too hazy and blended together for my tastes; besides the main image, the other details are not meant to be focused on and it's just not my thing. This book is actually the first in a trilogy, which I did not know previously. I would be interested in following up with the other two books at some time.


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