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Rebekkah's Journey Review by Susan Wojtkowski

By Ann E. Burg
Illustrations by Joel Iskowitz
Sleeping Bear Press
310 North Main Street, Suite 300
Chelsea, MI 48118

This historical fiction work is the tale of eight-year-old Rebekkah and her mother as they arrive in America after fleeing Europe at the end of World War II. This beautiful, hardcover book is filled with stunning illustrations. The book retails for $17.95, and a free fourteen-page teacher's guide with children's activities is available on the company's website. (Click on "catalog," enter "Rebekkah's Journey," and then click on "teachers guide").

Rebekkah and her mother flee Europe with little more than what they are wearing and travel to American in hopes of a free life. The story briefly chronicles their journey from Europe and to an army base for refugees in upstate New York. This is a poignant tale but one with a surprising conflict and resolution. The true conflict is about Rebekkah's mother not allowing her to attend school with the other refugee children.

Though the book is clearly written for the elementary grades, I read this book to my nine- and thirteen-year-old sons. They both enjoyed it but were hoping for something "more." For instance, you aren't even aware that the refugee camp is in upstate New York unless you read the book jacket. Nor do you learn why they flee Europe or end up in a convent in Italy. While we all enjoyed the book, it could have been greatly improved by embellishing on these areas and giving more background to the characters. Since the book is written for elementary-aged children, one would assume that they aren't very familiar with Nazi Germany.

Overall, it is a good story, but it is not one I would seek out for enriching our studies on World War II.

Product review by Susan Wojtkowski, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October 2006