The Memory Coat

The Memory Coat

Ellis Island was the doorway to hope for so many immigrants escaping dangerous and difficult climates in their homeland. They all had stories and this is the story of one such family that begins in Russia. Rachel who loves to tell stories and her orphaned cousin, Grisha, who can draw anything, have a wonderful friendship amidst the clamor and warmth of their large extended Jewish family.

The two children spend hours each day with Rachel inventing one story after another and Grisha bringing them to life on paper or eventually in the crystals of the fallen snow outside the house. Grisha holds grief for his lost mother who spent her last year of life sewing a coat for him. He holds onto that coat as though it holds his mother's love for him and keeps her close by.

Then, the day comes when the harsh reality of the prejudice and violence of the Cossacks intrudes into the loving, safe world of this family and many others and they decide to sell their possessions and escape to America where they can begin again and be accepted. If you know the history of Ellis Island well, then you know that inspectors evaluated the immigrants and that a simple chalk mark could deny someone entrance to the land of opportunity. The family sails across the ocean and for fourteen days Rachel spins her stories all the time wondering what their future will hold.

Ages 7-10     978-0590677172     32 pages

Recommended by:  Barb Langridge,

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