Review: Three Stars in the Night Sky

Three Stars in the Night Sky cover

by Fern Schumer Chapman
Gussie Rose Press/June 6, 2018
Grades 5–8, 56 pages

Here’s what the pub­lish­er says:

At the age of 12, Ger­da Katz fled Nazi Ger­many and came to Amer­i­ca all by her­self. Decades before the label gained recog­ni­tion, she became what’s now known as an “unac­com­pa­nied minor.” Gerda’s sto­ry of fam­i­ly sep­a­ra­tion reflects the dis­lo­cat­ing trau­ma, cul­ture shock, and excru­ci­at­ing lone­li­ness many unac­com­pa­nied minor immi­grants expe­ri­ence. As Ger­da becomes an Amer­i­can, she nev­er stops long­ing to be reunit­ed with her fam­i­ly. Three Stars in the Night Sky illu­mi­nates the per­son­al dam­age of racism in three coun­tries – Nazi Ger­many, the Domini­can Repub­lic, and the Unit­ed States dur­ing the 1930s and 40s — and the emo­tion­al dev­as­ta­tion of a child com­ing to a new coun­try alone.

And here are my thoughts:
This was an engag­ing, up close and per­son­al look at an his­tor­i­cal event that is sad­ly still rel­e­vant today for many rea­sons, includ­ing under­stand­ing World War II, anti-Semi­tism, refugees, and the very real impacts of immi­gra­tion poli­cies. There is also local rel­e­van­cy here in west­ern Wash­ing­ton state, as Ger­da emi­grat­ed to Seat­tle to escape the per­se­cu­tion of Jews in Ger­many in 1938 and wound up fac­ing the intern­ment of the region’s Japan­ese-Amer­i­can cit­i­zens. I found the sto­ry and accom­pa­ny­ing images to be inter­est­ing as well as infor­ma­tive. The for­mat makes it looks like a pic­ture book, but I would not rec­om­mend it for younger read­ers due to the sen­si­tive top­ics cov­ered and the way in which they are pre­sent­ed here. High­ly rec­om­mend­ed for grades 5 and up, how­ev­er, whether as part of learn­ing more about the World War II era or look­ing at cur­rent events through a his­tor­i­cal lens. Ger­da’s sto­ry will stick with me for some time to come, and I’m thank­ful to have had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to read about it.
For more books by this author, vis­it
*** Dis­clo­sure: I received a review copy from the pub­lish­er as part of judg­ing the CYBILS contest. ***
Facts First! Nonfiction Monday

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