cover image The Two Brothers

The Two Brothers

William Jaspersohn. Vermont Folklife Center, $15.95 (36pp) ISBN 978-0-916718-16-9

Vermont history comes alive via this modest tale of two immigrant brothers. In the 1880s, Heinrich leaves the poverty of his Prussian home to seek his fortune in America. He promises to send for his younger brother, Friedrich, and their mother as soon as he establishes himself: ""Until then, expect not a word from me,"" he adds, puzzlingly. After a long and difficult ocean voyage to New York, he is renamed Henry by an immigration officer and directed to a job as a farmhand in Vermont. He quickly adapts and grows to love his new home. Meanwhile, back in Prussia, Heinrich's mother dies and a grief-stricken Friedrich decides to follow in his brother's footsteps. Fred (as Friedrich is Americanized) ends up working on a Vermont farm, too--for 15 months he lives a mile away from Henry before the two are reunited by chance. Jaspersohn's (How the Forest Grew) straightforward text is drawn from actual family archives. A brief endnote containing this factual information gives the story added resonance. Donato (Squanto and the First Thanksgiving) renders the events in stylized pastels featuring powerful shapes and dark, dramatic hues. One quibble: the characters' faces occasionally look simian. Tips to help readers create a family history are included. Ages 6-10. (Sept.)