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Emma's Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty (Jane Addams Award Book (Awards)) Hardcover – April 5, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 2–4—A gentle tribute to Emma Lazarus, very much in the style of Barbara Cooney's Eleanor (Viking, 1996). Glaser describes the poet as a child of privilege who was moved by the plight of immigrants in the 1880s. On a visit to Ward's Island, "her heart hurt to see them." She began helping them to learn English and get jobs, and she increased awareness of their plight through her poetry and other writings. Asked, along with other writers of the time such as Mark Twain and Walt Whitman, to write a poem to raise money for a pedestal for the Statue of Liberty, she composed one that became part of the fabric of America. Nivola's delicately composed watercolor and gouache paintings appear in frames on each page, with a few lines of potent text in clean white space either underneath or to the side. The pictures, with their slight folk-art feel, capture both the time and action of the story, while the text illuminates the woman. An author's note and the full text of the poem complete the book. A worthwhile addition for most collections.—Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Growing up in a wealthy Jewish American family in the late nineteenth century, Emma Lazarus “only knew people / who had plenty of everything.” But in New York’s harbor, she saw impoverished new immigrants, tired and hungry, sad and sick, many having fled persecution, and she defied both the prevailing view that women should keep quiet and the widespread prejudice that immigrants would “ruin the country.” The art and words are moving in this picture book, which pairs free verse with detailed, full-page paintings in watercolor, ink, and gouache to tell the history behind Lazarus’ famous inscription on the Statue of Liberty. Lazarus’ complete poem, “The New Colossus,” from which the statue’s lines are drawn, appears at the book’s end, along with a picture of the statue today. Sepia-tone family photos on the back flap show the writer and artist’s own immigrant roots, which will echo with contemporary kids. Pair this with the feature “Core Collection: The New Immigrant Story,” which appeared in the August 2005 issue of Booklist. Grades K-3. --Hazel Rochman

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 790L (What's this?)
  • Series: Jane Addams Award Book (Awards)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (April 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547171846
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547171845
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 0.3 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #755,817 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Linda Glaser has fond childhood memories of snuggling next to her mother and being read to. She's grateful that because of this, she grew up with a strong love of books even though she had a terrible time learning to read. When she finally mastered it in third grade, she immediately grabbed a pen and pad and started to write. And she hasn't stopped since. She loves how time evaporates when she writes. She also loves the feeling of being captured by a good book and hopes her readers will have that experience when they open one of her hers. Please visit her website

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Hooked on Books on July 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Emma Lazarus was a young woman full of passion, integrity and had a very strong message to be told. She was a writer, a Jew, and most importantly a woman who wanted her voice to be heard. She lived in New York City during the late 1880's in a family full of fortune and wealth. One day she visited the New York Harbor where she saw many impoverished immigrants, Jews and non-Jews who had traveled from afar for freedom in America. She began to help these people, which then inspired her to write one of the most powerful poems. This poem, The New Colossus, gave the Statue of Liberty a voice to welcome all new immigrants to the United States. In Emma's Poem, author Linda Glaser, writes about Emma Lazarus as a little girl and then a grown woman who creates a beautiful sonnet that is now inscribed on the Statue of Liberty. Claire Nivola, the Illustrator creates elegant full-page illustrations done in watercolors and Gouache. The magical pictures are painting like in that they make the story come to life with intricate details. The pictures along with the words tell a beautiful story that is part of our American history and one that should never be forgotten.

This book is recommended for children ages 4-8 and highly recommended for all libraries. Linda Glaser is a fabulous author that has written many other wonderful picture books including: Mrs. Greenberg's Messy Hanukkah, The Borrowed Hanukkah Latkes, Our Big Home: An Earth Poem, Bridge to America and many others. Emma's Poem includes an author's note at the back of the book along with the full text of the poem, The New Colossus. Most important, this story teaches children how Emma's poem and the Statue of Liberty came together and are an important part of our history and life.
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Format: Hardcover
Emma could count herself among the fortunate few. She was always dressed nicely and had a lot of food. Best of all she had "plenty of love from her family." They lived in a large beautiful home in New York City. Naturally, Emma thought that everyone lived liked they did. When she grew up, she became a "well-known writer," but she began to notice that not all people were as fortunate as she and her family had been. When she visited Ward's Island in New York Harbor she was greatly saddened by the poor, sick, and tired immigrant population she saw who came in search of a better life on the shores of the United States.

Many, like Emma, were Jewish and had escaped the madness of Eastern Europe. They were intelligent, but came with nothing. Many came without their "friends and relatives who had been killed." It was during the 1880s that she began to work with them. She helped them learn English, find work and in return she found friends. People looked their noses down on this type of practice and even more so on the people she helped. One day Emma "heard about a statue being constructed in France as a gift of friendship for the United States." In an effort to raise money, famous writers were asked to write something in commemoration. Emma had an idea . . .

This is a stunning portrait of a woman, a people, and time so very important in American history. Of course, Emma is the one who penned the poem that reads in part, "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses . . . " Undoubtedly few people know about Emma Lazarus, a woman all but forgotten by history, but her famous poem still blazes strong. The art work was strong, bold, and depicted those huddled masses perfectly. In the back of the book is a photograph of Emma, an interesting biographical vignette by the author, and the poem in its entirety. This is a wonderful historical book that deserved a place on your classroom, library, or homeschool shelves!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jewish Book World Magazine on August 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Before reading Linda Glaser's simple, yet eloquent picture book, Emma's Poem, one might think one knew most of what there was to know about the Statue of Liberty: gift from France, stands in New York harbor, has a poem on its pedestal written by Emma Lazarus. Glaser's book tells the story behind the woman who wrote that poem. Emma Lazarus grew up in the lap of luxury. Her visit, one day, to Ward's Island, entry port for many tired, hungry and poor immigrants, had a profound effect on her. These immigrants, mainly Jews like herself, had been terribly mistreated in their home countries. Emma felt compelled to help them. But immigrants were not well received in Emma's social circle, an image she vowed to help change. When asked to contribute a poem to an anthology being put together to raise money for the Statue of Liberty pedestal, Emma wrote her now-famous words to welcome all immigrants to our country, words so powerful they were eventually etched on a plaque attached to the pedestal itself. All immigrants would now read Emma's welcoming words: Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free. Glaser's descriptive text, combined with illustrator Clair A. Nivola's careful attention to the historical details of the late 1800's, make Emma's Poem a book not to be missed. Although the book is intended for ages 4-8, anyone interested in American history and/or the Statue of Liberty would definitely enjoy reading this wonderful journey back through time to Emma Lazarus's world. Reviewed by marcia Berneger
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M. Tanenbaum VINE VOICE on September 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Very nicely done picture book biography of Emma Lazarus, best known for writing the poem on the base of the Statue of Liberty that has become nearly as famous as the statue herself. We see Emma as a small child, with "plenty of everything," growing up in an environment of people who had "plenty of everything." We see her in her privileged setting, but then Emma visits Ward's Island and meets very poor immigrants, Jews like herself who had made the long, hard journey to America. Emma wants to help them, and begins to write about the immigrants in the newspaper and in poems to raise awareness of the poverty in which they lived. When Emma hears about the statue being constructed in France, she is asked to write something for a collection that would be sold to help pay to construct a pedestal for the great statue. Although the statue had nothing to do with immigrants, Emma imagined how it would be the first thing new arrivals would see as they entered New York Harbor, and decided to write a poem from the point of view of the statue. The author describes how Emma didn't see the statue erected, but after her death the poem was engraved on a plaque and placed inside the entrance to the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty for visitors to read. The poem became so famous that schoolchildren learned it and the poem was even set to music by Irving Berlin.

The book includes an author's note with additional historical details and of course the complete text of the poem, entitled "The New Colossus."
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