Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Rebekkah’s Journey: A World War II Refugee Story

Rebekkah’s Journey: A World War II Refugee Story

Ann E. Burg
Illustrator:  Joel Iskowitz 
Historical Fiction Picture Book  Series
For ages 8 to 12
Sleeping Bear Press, 2006   ISBN: 978-1585362752

Rebekkah and her mother have come a long way. Theirs has been a difficult and dangerous journey and they have left behind Rebekkah’s father, their life, and their home. They left Italy because they were Jews and if they did not leave the Nazi’s would have shipped them off to who knows where. They left Italy with almost nothing, why Rebekkah did not even have any shoes on her feet.

Now they are coming into New York Harbor and there is the Statue of Liberty, holding up her flaming torch and looking “so strong.” It is very hard for Rebekkah and her fellow travelers when they find out that they are going to be housed in a place behind a fence. It seems so hard to have come so far just to end up in a place like this. Still, in not time at all everyone is given food, a clean room and a comfortable place to sleep. Better still people on the other side of the fence were passing over gifts of food, toys, books, and clothes.

This is just the beginning of yet another long journey for Rebekkah and her mother.

In this sometimes painful and touching story the author describes what it might have been like to live in the Fort Ontario Emergency Refugee Shelter which President Franklin Roosevelt created in Oswego, New York in 1944. 982 people from 18 countries lived here for 18 months and many had experiences similar to the ones that Rebekkah and her mother suffered. Written with great understanding and sympathy, this story is a fitting tribute to all refugees who have been forced to flee their homes and who have had to build new lives for themselves in a distant country where they have had to learn a new language and have had to adjust to a new culture.