The American Girl Company has launched numerous dolls with accompanying books about the character. The newest addition is Rebecca Rubin, a Jewish girl growing up on the Lower East Side of New York in 1914. Each of the books is rich in detail and offers historical information at the end of each story. Rebecca is a likeable girl, with goals, dreams, and real flaws. She is a sympathetic character whose struggles are universal and timeless. Her family is proudly Jewish. The author does an excellent job of creating realistic situations that honor the traditional Jewish values of the grandparents, as well as the more modern lifestyle of the younger family members. Readers will also learn about significant historical events such as immigration and the creation of unions and labor laws, as seen through the eyes of Rebecca. Colorful settings such as Coney Island, the busy streets of the Lower East Side, and a movie set from the early 1900’s, add interest and appeal. The Rebecca series will be adored by elementary age girls, both Jewish and not. The mass appeal of the American Girl collection will introduce countless readers to the traditions and history of Jews in America. Like the All-of- a‑Kind Family series, the Rebecca books will give Jewish girls much to be proud of. Although each of the books does stand alone, it is best to read them in sequence.
Barbara Bietz is a freelance writer and children’s book reviewer. She is currently a member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee. Barbara is the author of the middle grade book, Like a Maccabee. She has a blog dedicated to Jewish books for children at www.BarbaraBBookBlog.Blogspot.com.