Miriam’s Journey is one of many books written about the Jewish immigrant experience. Miriam and her two sisters travel with their mother from their Russian shtetl to join their father in America. When they arrive, they discover that he died while they were en route. Women and children were not allowed to enter the United States without someone who could earn a living and provide for them. Through the help of a woman they met on board the ship, their story is told to a reporter for the Forward. An attorney takes their case after reading the newspaper story and persuades a judge to let them settle in the United States rather than go back to Russia, where they were victimized by the pogroms. The story is told simply with little detail of their life in the shtetl or on board the ship. The description of their experience on Ellis Island, however, gives a vivid picture of what coming into America was like for millions of immigrants. Although the book is titled Miriam’s Journey, Miriam’s older sister Ida is a more memorable character. It is her outburst in line at Ellis Island makes the people around her aware of her family’s plight.
The book is written to appeal to readers in second through fifth grade, with large print, short chapters and color illustrations. The author states that she wrote this book to be the first in a series about girls in Jewish history to illustrate the values of kindness, respect, charity, and honesty. The values portrayed in the story are not presented in a heavy-handed manner, but are shown as a natural outgrowth of the story.
This series may provide a comfortable reading experience about Jewish history for girls who like the American Girl Series. Each book will be accompanied by a doll. Ages 7 and up.