From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Ages 5-8. In an upbeat picture book about a Polish child coming to America at the turn of the century, six-year-old Krysia describes her journey with her mother and brothers: the sad leaving from their village home; the longing to join her father, who had gone ahead of them; the cramped, sometimes stormy crossing; the first view of the Statue of Liberty; the arrival at Ellis Island on Christmas Eve; the forms and medicals and uncertainty. Nolan's soft-textured watercolors express Krysia's bewilderment and hope. Through her eyes, we see the smiling warmth that radiates from her mother, even among the blurry lines and confusion of the crowded immigration halls. The Christmas tree is a sign of joyful connection, and Krysia learns that the Polish Saint Mikolaj is called Santa Claus in America. The climactic family reunion in glowing earth colors contrasts with the final misty view of the New York skyline as they leave the island for their new home. Leighton's language is quiet, and the incidents are general enough for children and those who read to them to fill in the details of their own family journeys. The tiny illustrations of a battered passport and a sepia photograph will touch memories across generations. ~--Hazel Rochman