Immigrant Girl: Becky of Eldridge Street

966102Title: Immigrant Girl: Becky of Eldridge Street

Author: Brett Harvey

Illustrator: Deborah Kogan Ray

Publisher and Year: Holiday House, 1987

Number of pages: 36 pages

Themes/Tags: Immigrant, Colleen Swanson, 3-5, 6-8, Social Science, Fine Arts, Fmily, Culture, Diversity

Genre: Historical Fiction

Descriptive Annotation: This book is told from the perspective of a Jewish girl named Becky Moscowitz. Becky and her family are immigrants from Russia now living in the Lower East Side of New York. Becky has many responsibilities as a ten-year-old girl such as taking care of her younger brothers and sisters as well as her grandma. She also attends school in New York where is learning English and enjoys Art class. In the book, Becky explains what she does during the week such as going to the market for her mother, going with her brother to see a nickel movie, or going to the library to find books. One night Becky attends a worker’s rally with her Aunt Sonia who works in a sewing factory all day. Sonia and the other workers decide to go on strike for more wages and better treatment at work. After this Becky explain how her grandma does not want the family to become too American and lose their Jewish faith and heritage. Every Friday evening, Becky and her family have a traditional meal celebrating the Jewish holiday of Shabbes. This is the only meal the family ever eats together. Another afternoon, Becky and her family go to the Bronx Park for the first time. This park is wide open and grassy making Mama and Papa think of their homeland in Russia. The following spring the family gets ready for Passover. At Passover dinner Mama and Papa explain that more relatives will be coming from Russia to live with them in America. Becky is excited to have her cousins come and show them how amazing America is. This story is has about two paragraphs of texts per page making it more suitable for upper elementary and middle school grades. The illustrations in this text are a mix of pencil and charcoal sketches in black and white. The images are hazy but still very powerful. Students reading this book would benefit from background knowledge of immigration in the 1900s as well as why Jews, such as Becky and her family, were immigrating to America at this time.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity: In this story there is both linguistic and cultural diversity present. The cultural diversity is seen through Becky and her family as they practice both Russia and Jewish traditions during their daily lives in New York. In addition, the linguistic diversity is also seen through the characters as they use Russian and Yiddish words and talk about Jewish holidays and traditions. These words are all italicized in the text and found in the glossary at the back of the book. Each of these words then has a description in the glossary further explaining their meaning in English for readers to understand.

Interdisciplinary Connections: This text can be integrated with many subjects in the upper elementary and middle school grades particularly a Social Studies class as well as an Art class. In a Social Studies class, this text can be used to talk about the topic of immigration to the United States as well the typical life of an immigrant in America at this time. In addition, this book may be used to specifically discuss why Russian Jews immigrated to the United States at this time in history and what was causing them to leave their homeland. This story may also be used in an Arts class by looking at the illustrations and the technique used with charcoal and pencil. Although all of the images are in black and white they are still powerful and tell Becky’s story vividly.

Other Connections: Immigrant Girl is a text best suited for the upper elementary and middle school grades. This is due to the text amount per page as well as the text difficulty. There are many Russian and Yiddish words used in the story that younger students may not be able to understand through the context clues given in the surrounding text. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this story and it’s portrayal of the typical life of Russian immigrant family in New York City. The only issue I have with this book is the amount of text per page. I found the story to be rather long and I can see readers losing focus after reading this text for a while. After reading this book to my students one activity I may employ is having students write a sequel to this book explaining what happens to Becky and her family when her aunt, uncle, and cousin arrive from Russia and begin their life in America.

IMG_3769 IMG_3770

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply