Gittel’s Journey: An Ellis Island Story is an award-winning picture book from author Lesléa Newman and illustrator Amy Bates.
Gittel and her mother were supposed to immigrate to America together, but when her mother is stopped by the health inspector, Gittel must make the journey alone. Her mother writes her cousin’s address in New York on a piece of paper. However, when Gittel arrives at Ellis Island, she discovers the ink has run and the address is illegible! How will she find her family?
Both a heart-wrenching and heartwarming story, Gittel’s Journey offers a fresh perspective on the immigration journey to Ellis Island. The book includes an author’s note explaining how Gittel’s story is based on the journey to America taken by Lesléa Newman’s grandmother and family friend.
“Beautifully designed and illustrated . . . The watercolor illustrations artfully capture an era and people.” —School Library Journal (Starred Review)
“Newman’s spare yet evocative text works well as a read-aloud, and the solution to Gittel’s problem . . . is both clever and true.” —Booklist (Starred Review)
About the Author
Lesléa Newman is the author of 80 books for readers of all ages, including the novel-in-verse October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard; the short story collection A Letter to Harvey Milk; the dual memoir-in-verse I Carry My Mother and I Wish My Father; the picture books Sparkle Boy and The Boy Who Cried Fabulous; and the children’s classic Heather Has Two Mommies. Her honors and literary awards include the Matthew Shepard Foundation Making a Difference Award, a National Endowment for the Arts poetry fellowship, two American Library Association Stonewall Honors, two National Jewish Book Awards, the Association of Jewish Libraries Sydney Taylor Body-of-Work Award, and the Massachusetts Book Award. From 2008–10, she served as the poet laureate of Northampton, Massachusetts. Seven of her poems from October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard are included in the libretto of Considering Matthew Shepard, a fusion oratorio composed by Craig Hella Johnson. Newman lives in Holyoke, Massachusetts.
Amy Bates is the illustrator of many books for children, including The Boy and the Sea, Gittel’s Journey, Minette’s Feast, and The Dog Who Belonged to No One. She lives in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
"Mixed-media images by Bates (The Big Umbrella), washed in yellows and browns and framed by woodblock motifs, give readers a vivid sense of the historical context while infusing the story with a timeless emotional immediacy. Newman (Ketzel, the Cat Who Composed) skillfully modulates her narration, capturing her protagonist’s feelings of excitement, loneliness, and fear. The ending, handled with both restraint and warmth, relies on one of those improbable twists of good fortune that define so many immigrant stories—and it’s based on a real event."
— Publishers Weekly
"Beautifully designed and illustrated . . . The watercolor illustrations artfully capture an era and people."
— School Library Journal
"Newman's spare yet evocative text works well as a read-aloud, and the solution to Gittel's problem . . . is both clever and true . . . She [Bates] employs Old World style decorative frames throughout (setting off both art and text), appropriate to the story's turn-of-the-century setting."
"The illustrations are beautiful . . . Classroom teachers can use as an example text showing one child’s story of immigration. An excellent addition to a library collection."
— School Library Connection
"Newman tells Gittel’s story with sympathy and tenderness, incorporating Jewish phrases (italicized) and customs and placing within it facts about that time and place. Gittel’s every emotion is felt in Bates’ soft, earth-toned, framed illustrations reminiscent of old-time sepia photographs . . . A heartfelt, lovely evocation of one facet of the immigrant experience."
— Kirkus Reviews