Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

When Jessie Came Across the Sea

When Jessie Came Across the Sea

Amy Hest
Illustrator:  P.J. Lynch 
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 10
Walker (UK), 1997   ISBN: 978-0744540871

Jessie lives in a small cottage with her grandmother and the two have a quite life. Jessie learns to read and write and does her best to teach her grandmother. Grandmother teaches Jessie how to sew and how to make lace for as Grandmother says "You may want to earn money some day."

Then this quiet life is all turned upside down. The Rabbi is the village is sent a ticket to go to America but he cannot go; he feels he cannot leave his village and the people there who need him. So, he decides that someone from the village must go in his place and that someone is going to be none other than Jessie.

With a very heavy heart Jessie leaves her home and her much loved grandmother, sailing away on a ship to a far away country she knows almost nothing about. During this voyage, to help pass the time and to help sooth her aching heart, she begins to sew and to make lace. It is these skills which help her when she goes to work for the Rabbi’s sister-in-law and it is these skills which help her save money for another ticket for the passage to America.

This beautifully written and illustrated picture book tells a simple story of a new beginning, and it encapsulates the fears and difficulties that countless thousands of immigrants faced when they came to America to start a new life. Jessie’s courage and her successes are a message of hope which has a timeless quality, as relevant today for many as it was some hundred years ago.