Review: Three Stars in the Night Sky

Zoo Scientists cover

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.
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*** Disclosure: I received a review copy from the publisher as part of judging the CYBILS contest. ***
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