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Is It Night or Day? Hardcover – March 16, 2010


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Is It Night or Day? + Motherland: Beyond the Holocaust: A Mother-Daughter Journey to Reclaim the Past
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 9
  • Lexile Measure: 810L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (March 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374177449
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374177447
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,162,368 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5–9—Tiddy, 12, can't understand why she is being forced to leave her beloved family to go and live in a strange land. By 1938, anti-Semitism has taken hold in Germany and the Westerfields, "an old and once respected Jewish family of Stockstadt," are suddenly "filthy Jews." Grandmother refuses to leave, but Vati and Mutti fear for the lives of their daughters, so they send Betty to a family in Chicago. A year later Tiddy is put on a ship to America to live with her Onkel Jacob. She soon finds that her aunt and cousin do not want her there, and that her sister lives too far away to visit often. From her first day in her new home and school, Tiddy is stripped of her identity and connection to her homeland. She is horrified when Aunt Mildred throws away her beautiful handmade blouse. She faces the humiliation of being placed in first grade at the age of 12 because she can't speak English. The final cord is severed when her parents die in a concentration camp. The author has "given voice" to her mother, Edith Westerfield, in this fictionalized account of her immigration experience. In doing so, Chapman has created an engaging memoirlike novel.—Wendy Scalfaro, G. Ray Bodley High School, Fulton, NY
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Chapman based this spare historical novel on her mother’s experience of coming to America to escape Nazi persecution. At age 12, Edith is sent by her German Jewish parents to relatives on Chicago’s South Side in 1937. Oppressed by her aunt, who makes Edith work as a maid, and teased at school, where she starts off in first grade until she learns English, Edith suffers prejudice, including anti-Semitism in the girls’ locker room (“Dirty Jew!”); and after the U.S. declares war, other children view her as an “enemy alien” and call her “Dirty Kraut.” Even worse, she receives almost no word from her parents, until the final shocking news about the camps comes in 1945. In Edith’s bewildered, sad, angry voice, the words are eloquent and powerful. Did her parents want to get rid of her? Why does her older sister, also in Chicago, not call? Just as heartbreaking is an early letter from her mother: “I open the door and no one is there.” On a lighter note, baseball helps Edith, and her hero, Hank Greenberg, inspires her to take pride in her Jewish heritage. As with the best writing, the specifics about life as a young immigrant are universal, including the book’s title, which is drawn from a quote by a Sudanese immigrant “Lost Boy” who arrived in the U.S. in 2001. Grades 6-10. --Hazel Rochman

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Very good and easy read.
Gina Cook
I first saw this on 48 HRS and had to read the book.
Gloria L. Chandler
SHAME on the perpetrators of these hanous crimes!.
Toni

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Beth Ivanoski on March 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Is It Night or Day? raises awareness about a rarely discussed topic, child-immigrants assimilating into American culture. Edith, who represents scores of child-immigrants, suffers with waves of confusion and emptiness. Classmates bully her while she is acclimating into American classrooms. Prejudice hurts Edith many times over. She grapples with a greater identity crisis than before leaving her motherland. She is forced to ask herself questions that plague many adolescents: Who am I? Do I belong? Will I ever be loved again?

Fern Schumer Chapman's Is It Night or Day? and her memoir, Motherland, capture childhood trauma and the legacy that results. Both are important works that appeal to young adults and adults. They raise interesting topics for book clubs and are a valuable addition to school curriculums.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J.Prather TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is a stunning portrayal of a young girl struggling to fit into American culture after fleeing Nazi Germany in the years leading up to World War II. Edith comes to our country at the age of 12 after saying goodbye to her family and friends, sent to America by parents who fear for her future but are only able to get visas for their children. The awful decision that families had to face, the heart wrenching grief of parents having to send their young children off alone to a new country is all seen through the bewildered eyes of this young girl. Edith can't really understand why she has to leave, and her parents go back and forth about how much hope to give and how much truth to tell.

Edith's experiences in America are by no means perfect; her aunt is overbearing, she gets placed in a first grade classroom because she can't speak english, and she soon realizes that anti-semitism is common in America too. Some moments, such as her puzzlement over the Jim Crow rules of the south, and her panic at having to say the Pledge of Allegiance at school were particulary telling and will generate lots of discussion.

While this book does not present a particulary happy ending, it takes a unique look at child immigration and will be a perfect addition to a social studies curriculum for middle schoolers. There are many parallels to be drawn here between Edith's plight and the troubles of many immigrants today. I was impressed by the author's ability to tell such a powerful story in so few words. She portrays Edith's growth throughout the book and it was very gratifying to see her finally obtain a sense of pride in her Jewish heritage. A big recommend for grades 5-8.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By jackson on February 13, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have children and I can't even imagine sending my 12 year old ALONE on a ship to a foreigh country! But her selfless parents wanted life, and a better one at that, for their little girl. She must have had something in her to survive and to make up her mind she would live. Excellent read!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By kylee Boyd on December 2, 2012
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this is a great heart touching book that will get your heart feeling. This book will warm your blood, warm your feelings and make you cry as it did me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Frances Crownover on March 5, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Excellent book describing a little known movement to rescue Jewish children pre-Holocaust Germany. Written from a young teen's perspecitve, it would be great for middle school children studying diverse cultures and religious persecution. Interesting read for adults seeking more info on this movement. Look forward to reading more in-depth study of the adult life of the teen featured in this book in Motherland...... by Fern Schumer Chapman
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By tillie1026 on February 11, 2013
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I thought is was well written and also amazing what we can go through and survive. I liked how the story told how it was that as the girl grew up she kept everything to herself until someone asked to tell her story. Such a proud woman and strong.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By MickieMac on February 9, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book, but was surprised at the abrupt nature of the ending. I would have loved to have known more of Tiddy's life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gloria L. Chandler on January 22, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I first saw this on 48 HRS and had to read the book. It is a book that everyone should read and be thankful for everything we have.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews


More About the Author

Fern Schumer Chapman is a Chicago-based writer whose second novel, IS IT NIGHT OR DAY?, will be available in paperback from Square Fish in March 2014. The book has received numerous awards including Junior Library Guild selection, Booklist's Top Ten Historical Fiction titles for youth in 2010 and Chicago Public Library's Best of the Best list. Her first book, a memoir called MOTHERLAND, is a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, a National Jewish Book Award finalist, and a BookSense76 pick.

A prequel to MOTHERLAND, IS IT NIGHT OR DAY? explores immigration, Americanization, and identity formation through a little-known program that rescued 1,400 children from the Holocaust. Illinois Reads selected this book as a featured title for 2013. In a starred review, Booklist called the work ''powerful and eloquent,'' adding, ''as with the best writing, the specifics about life as a young immigrant are universal.''

The paperback edition of IS IT NIGHT OR DAY? includes bonus material -- a Q/A with the author, a 3,000-word story of how 8th graders reunited the two Holocaust refugees who are featured in the book, and the Teacher's Guide, which is aligned with the new Core Curriculum Standards. Fern Schumer Chapman is scheduling school speeches tied to the paperback release at this time.

In 2004, the Illinois Association of Teachers of English (IATE) named Chapman the "Illinois Author of the Year."
www.fernschumerchapman.com

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