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When Jessie Came Across the Sea Paperback – September 29, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 2-4?This narrative of 13-year-old Jessie's journey from a poor village in Eastern Europe to New York City at the turn of the century affords readers a panoramic view of events and people. The author's exploration of a variety of emotions and feelings provides modern youngsters with a sense of connections with times long past. There is the familial devotion between Jessie and her grandmother, whom she has to leave behind. A shipboard friendship with Lou, a young shoemaker, helps Jessie survive the hardships and uncertainties of the ocean crossing. Her skill as a lacemaker, painstakingly learned from her grandmother, insures her success in the dressmaker's shop where she goes to work. Her romance with Lou is rekindled when they meet years later on a wintry day in Central Park. Jessie's reunion with her grandmother, whose ticket she has purchased with money saved during years of hard work, is the poignant conclusion to this tale. Lynch's luminous watercolor and gouache illustrations capture the characters' feelings, at the same time recording the storms at sea and teeming streets of the Lower East Side. The two young people's spirit of hope and optimism, created by the straightforward text, is enhanced by these pictures, as they provide a visual record of difficulties encountered by the scores of immigrants who reached these shores. This book will be particularly useful for units on immigration and family histories, used in conjunction with Allen Say's Grandfather's Journey (Houghton, 1993) or Jeanette Winter's Klara's New World (Knopf, 1992; o.p.).?Martha Rosen, Edgewood School, Scarsdale, NY
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Gr. 2^-4, younger for reading aloud. Jessie and her grandmother live in an Eastern European shtetel where, one day, the Rabbi informs the villagers that his brother has died and left him one ticket to "the promised land." The rabbi feels he cannot leave his people and decides to give the ticket to 13-year-old Jessie. It's almost too much for Jessie and her grandmother to bear, though both believe it is for the best. In America, Jessie follows her grandmother's trade and becomes a dressmaker. She works for three years until she has enough saved to purchase another ticket--for her grandmother. This picture book for older children is handsomely crafted. The pages are thick, and the watercolor-and-gouache paintings that illustrate the story are luminous. Lynch's full-page and paneled art, especially the scenes of Jessie at sea, have a panoramic quality. In some ways, the book's rich look is a problem, because the design, at times, overwhelms a story whose strongest point is its personal feeling. The pictures are striking, but it's the text that conveys the human emotions of loss, hope, and love that children will respond to. Ilene Cooper --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 4
  • Lexile Measure: 470L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick; Reprint edition (September 29, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076361274X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763612740
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 0.2 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #121,948 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Allyn on June 12, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Somehow, I always have a fondness for beautiful picture books. I always feel that a children's picture book should be something of beauty that is timeless...something that we can all treasure but something that is especially written in the straightforward language that a child understands. This is certainly not one of those mediocre, trashily illustrated, dime-a-dozen children's book. It is the uplifting story of Jessie, a girl who comes to America to begin a new life. The language is simple but beautiful, and Jessie is someone who we can all love. And the illustrations...oh!!! They are so gorgeously realistic; especially the cover with its beautifully done painting of immigrants watching the Statue of Liberty as they arrive in America. Beautiful story, beautiful pictures...what more could you want? "When Jessie Came Accross the Sea" is the kind of book that every child should have.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 22, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This beautifully illustrated picture book tells the coming-of age story of a young Jewish girl in an eloquent historically-based fashion. Jessie, a poor Jewish girl in a land far away, lives with her grandmother in a small village. A letter is sent to the Rabbi of the village asking that he come to America. Feeling that he must stay with his people, the Rabbi sends Jessie as his representative. Young Jessie journeys to America and, over the next three years, writes her grandmother who still lives in the village to tell her of her many adventures.
The illustrations in this book, done in watercolor and guache, are so very realistic that even the most minute details ae brought to life. The text and the pictures form a cohesive partnership, even down to the placement of the text on the page and the font chosen as Jessie writes to her grandmother. While the beginning maintains the natural flow of a hallmark picture book, the text can, at times, jump from one setting to the next in one page turn with only a statement like "weeks pass" and "three years later". This leaves the readers to account in their own minds for the missing time when the timeline of the pictures and story is so crucial to the plot line. However, the undeniably impressive spirit of the illustrations definitely makes up for the somewhat jaunty feel of the text.
This book may be used with primary and intermediate grades in American History units involving discussions of emigration to the United States. Considering that this book holds and endorsement from the Jewish Museum of New York City for its historical authenticity, it may also be used in units that discuss the cultural diversity of the United States.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 5, 1998
Format: Hardcover
"When Jessie Came Across the Sea" is one of those books that stays with you long after you've read it. My daughters love the story and the illustrations are of a quality rarely seen in books meant for young children. My daughter received this outstanding book as a Xmas present and has shared it with both her first and second grade classes. Her teachers were struck by the sentimental text and both admitted to crying when they read it aloud to their classes. My daughter recently received a request from her first grade teacher regarding the possibility of her bringing it back to school this year so she can share it with her '98-'99 class! This book contains many positive messages for young minds, and I highly recommend it for all parents who wish to add a rare treasure to their childrens' libraries.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on May 6, 2007
Format: Paperback
Hest, A. (1997). When Jessie came across the sea. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press.

Synopsis: Young Jessie lives with her beloved grandmother in Russia during the World War I time period. Her grandmother has Jessie educated with boys to ensure Jessie's ability to read and write. Jessie attempts to teach her grandmother to read and write. Meanwhile, Grandmother teaches Jessie how to sew lace. When Jessie is chosen to go to America by the rabbi, Jessie is fearful of leaving her grandmother, who is her only family, to go to a strange new place called New York. Jessie makes the lengthy trip to America all alone. However, she makes the acquaintance of many other immigrants who are as frightened as Jessie. Jessie's favorite friend is a boy her age named Lou. After making the long daunting trip to America, Jessie finds that it is going to be hard work to save enough money to bring Grandmother to America. Jessie works hard and attends schools with the support of the rabbi's cousin. Several years later, Jessie meets Lou again in Central Park. After some time courting, Lou asks Jessie to marry him. Jessie replies not yet. She is waiting for the perfect time for their wedding. Readers cannot help the heart-felt connections that are found within this story.

Evaluation: Readers are incredibly drawn into this story of a young immigrant girl. Ann Hest presents the text on a stark white background surrounded by P. J. Lynch's exquisite watercolor and gouache illustrations. Many of Lynch's illustrations expand across a double page spread which leaves readers feeling the warmth of the sunset across the Atlantic, the wind blowing through Jessie's glorious red locks, or the mist blowing through the harbor early in the morning.
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