Review of Gittel’s Journey, by Lesléa Newman, pictures by Amy June Bates

Gittel’s Journey

An Ellis Island Story

story by Lesléa Newman
pictures by Amy June Bates

Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2019. 44 pages.
Starred Review
2020 Sidney Taylor Picture Book Award Honor

Gittel’s Journey is the story of a young girl traveling by herself to America from Poland with her mother’s Sabbath candlesticks. The story is based on the true stories of the author’s grandmother and adopted aunt.

Gittel had set out with her mother, but her mother is turned away because of an eye infection. She tells Gittel to go on without her and gives her the address of her cousin. But when Gittel arrives in America after a long journey, the ink has worn off the paper because she has kept such tight hold of it.

Fortunately, Gittel finds kind helpers in America for a happy ending.

The story is simple, but catches the reader’s imagination with the idea of a young girl crossing an ocean alone. The beautiful water color illustrations and loving care taken in the book’s construction make this book a work of art with a classic feel.

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