Escaping to America: A True Story

Rosalyn Schanzer, Author HarperCollins Publishers $15.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-688-16989-3
Schanzer (How We Crossed the West: The Adventures of Lewis and Clark) recounts how her father, at the age of three, in 1921 traveled with his family from Sochocin, Poland, to the United States. The author's explanations of the conditions that drove her grandparents, Abba and Pearl Goodstein, to emigrate with their three children are vague and cursory, especially given the target audience. Of the political and historical context, Schanzer writes, ""Several different armies were chasing one another across the countryside and fighting a terrible war."" Then Schanzer notes, also sketchily, ""The Goodstein family was Jewish, and many peasants did not like the Jewish religion. Mobs in Sochocin beat up elderly Jews and smashed their shops. Troublemakers were accused of being spies, first for one side and then the other."" The narrative more compellingly conveys the flight of the Goodsteins. After narrowly escaping from soldiers, they meet up with an American woman sent by Abba's sister in Knoxville, Tenn., who had obtained the necessary papers and tickets for the family's passage. Schanzer's detailed and dramatic pictures have a few weak spots (awkward foreshortening in one illustration, for example, gives the impression that Abba is being surrounded by a squad of midgets, not Cossacks). For the most part, however, they offer an affecting portrait of the Goodsteins and draw readers into the tale. Ages 8-12. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/31/2000
Release date: 08/01/2000
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