HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Journey to America
Author: Sonia Levitin
Illustrator: Charles Robinson
Publisher: Aladdin, republished 1987
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 8 – 12
Rating: ***** 5 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Levitin, Sonia. Journey to America (Published in 1970 by Atheneum Books, New York City, NY). It is 1938, and twelve year old Lisa Platt lives in Berlin, Germany, with her Papa Arthur, who is a coat maker, Mother Margo, older sister Ruth, younger sister Annie, and a cat named Mauschen. The Platts are a Jewish family, and it is not safe for Jews in Hitler’s Nazi Germany. Their housekeeper Marie quits, the children can no longer attend public school, and many of their Jewish relatives and friends are suffering more and more hardships under the new regime. So Papa secretly goes to America to prepare the way for the rest of the family.
Mother and the girls are to go to Switzerland supposedly to be on a short holiday but really to wait to hear from Papa. Of course, Mauschen cannot go, and their nursemaid Clara, a Christian who also is unable leave with them because of her mother, promises to take care of the cat. Mother pays all their bills, gets their passports, and packs their bags. With money running short and Mother’s health not so good, do they make it, or are they caught and sent back? How long is it before they hear from Papa? And will they ever see him again?
Author Sonia Levitin, like Lisa Platt, escaped from Germany with her family in the late 1930’s. This well paced story captures the danger and seriousness of the Platts’ situation as they make their plans to escape but does so in a way that still isn’t too frightening for an eleven or twelve year old. One reader reviewer, probably a young boy, wrote, “Why in the world would anyone want to read this? I hate the book so much I hated to read it. It is about some stupid girls. IT IS STUPID!!!” I agree with the response, “Grow up.” There is a sequel, Silver Days, and the third book in the series is Annie’s Promise.