Gittel's Journey: An Ellis Island Story (Hardcover)
A 2020 Sydney Taylor Honor Book!
A 2019 National Jewish Book Award Winner!
Gittel and her mother were supposed to immigrate to America together, but when her mother is stopped by the health inspector, Gittel must make the journey alone. Her mother writes her cousin’s address in New York on a piece of paper. However, when Gittel arrives at Ellis Island, she discovers the ink has run and the address is illegible! How will she find her family? Both a heart-wrenching and heartwarming story, Gittel’s Journey offers a fresh perspective on the immigration journey to Ellis Island. The book includes an author’s note explaining how Gittel’s story is based on the journey to America taken by Lesléa Newman’s grandmother and family friend.
About the Author
Lesléa Newman is the author of 70 books for adults and children. Her literary awards include a National Endowment for the Arts poetry fellowship, the Association of Jewish Libraries Sydney Taylor Award, and the Massachusetts Book Award. She lives in Holyoke, Massachusetts.
Amy Bates is the illustrator of Bear in the Air, Minette’s Feast, and The Dog Who Belonged to No One. She lives in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
"Mixed-media images by Bates (The Big Umbrella), washed in yellows and browns and framed by woodblock motifs, give readers a vivid sense of the historical context while infusing the story with a timeless emotional immediacy. Newman (Ketzel, the Cat Who Composed) skillfully modulates her narration, capturing her protagonist’s feelings of excitement, loneliness, and fear. The ending, handled with both restraint and warmth, relies on one of those improbable twists of good fortune that define so many immigrant stories—and it’s based on a real event."
— Publishers Weekly
"Beautifully designed and illustrated . . . The watercolor illustrations artfully capture an era and people."
— School Library Journal
"Newman's spare yet evocative text works well as a read-aloud, and the solution to Gittel's problem . . . is both clever and true . . . She [Bates] employs Old World style decorative frames throughout (setting off both art and text), appropriate to the story's turn-of-the-century setting."
"The illustrations are beautiful . . . Classroom teachers can use as an example text showing one child’s story of immigration. An excellent addition to a library collection."
— School Library Connection
"Newman tells Gittel’s story with sympathy and tenderness, incorporating Jewish phrases (italicized) and customs and placing within it facts about that time and place. Gittel’s every emotion is felt in Bates’ soft, earth-toned, framed illustrations reminiscent of old-time sepia photographs . . . A heartfelt, lovely evocation of one facet of the immigrant experience."
— Kirkus Reviews