- Age Range: 4 - 8 years
- Grade Level: Preschool - 3
- Lexile Measure: AD650L (What's this?)
- Hardcover: 32 pages
- Publisher: Scholastic Press; First Edition, First Printing edition (March 1, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0590677179
- ISBN-13: 978-0590677172
- Product Dimensions: 11.8 x 0.5 x 10.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 13 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #603,163 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Memory Coat Hardcover – March 1, 1999
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From Publishers Weekly
An immigrant boy's tattered woolen coat helps secure his entrance to America in this thoughtful picture book. Grisha, whose parents have died, now lives with his cousin Rachel's boisterous family in a Russian shtetl. Grisha misses his parents terribly, though he finds comfort in playing storytelling games with Rachel ("they were the best of friends") and in wearing the now-ragged coat sewn by his mother. But after cossacks terrorize the Jews of the shtetl, Rachel's family flees to America. At Ellis Island an inspector notes a scratch on Grisha's eye and marks his coat, indicating that he is rejected. Luckily, quick-thinking Rachel turns Grisha's coat inside out, allowing him to pass with the rest of the family. Woodruff (The Orphan of Ellis Island) steeps her tale in history, and at times the abundance of scene-setting detail bogs down the story's pacing. Dooling's (Mary McLean and the St. Patrick's Day Parade) evocative oil paintings range from low-contrast two-color portraits to full-color scenes; many exude great warmth. A black-and-white spread depicting a huddled band of people, with anxious, strained faces, is particularly memorable. Endnotes supply facts about the plight of Russian Jews in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the mechanics of immigration and the role of Ellis Island. Ages 7-10.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3-A moving story of a family emigrating to the United States from Russia at the turn of the century. To while away the days in their small village, or shtetl, Rachel makes up stories and her orphaned cousin draws pictures in the dirt or snow to illustrate them. Although Rachel's mother offers to make Grisha a new coat, the boy clings to his threadbare jacket because it reminds him of his mother. When Russian soldiers come to round up the Jews, the family is forced to flee and makes the long, arduous journey to America. Grisha is nearly turned away by immigration authorities at Ellis Island because of a cut on his eye. Rachel saves the situation when she turns his shabby coat inside out to hide the doctor's chalk mark. Realistic yet impressionistic oil paintings in subdued tones evoke scenes from village and farm life in the old country, while sepia-toned illustrations depict the hardships of the voyage and the grimness of the customs inspection. A touching story of immigration and the resiliency of those who underwent the transition, told with the fondness of a cherished memory.
Sally R. Dow, Ossining Public Library, NY
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
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The beautiful illustrations morph back and forth from colour to sepia or black and white, depending on the fortunes of the protagonists.
A very special book.
"Then one day, news spread through the market place that the Cossacks were coming on powerful horses and waving sharp swords. They were looking to kill anyone who was Jewish. There was great chaos as babies cried, dogs barked, and wagons clattered over cobblestones. People screamed and shouted and ran to hide in their cellars and attics and barns.
From their attic window Rachel and Grisha trembled as the Cossacks swept through their town."
This is a rather grim tale at times; grim but I will tell you know that it has a good and happy ending. The love and devotion the family shows each other is touching and inspiring. The persecution set off a chain of events that forced this poor Russian family to immigrate to the United States and escape the horror that was their country. The only wrong they had done was being Jewish.
This story is held together by a coat the young boy in the story and follows the family on their journey, including an almost disaster at Ellis Island. The story is told in wonderfully simply prose and as so often is the case, much of what is not said is far more important that what is said.
The art work in this book is wonderfully executed. It captures "Old World Europe" perfectly. From full color to grim black and white - all extremely detailed that captures the immigration experience perfectly. We follow the family primarily through Rachel and her brother Grisha; two young siblings whose entire way of life has been ripped from them and a new start is the only thing that will save them. Troubles? Yes, but the solid love and devotion this family shows win through in the end.
This is an excellent book for use in Social Studies.
My favorite book was The Memory Coat. Why is this my favorite book? I love this book because at the time I was reading it, we were learning about it in social studies. It was about immigration and how hard it was.
I feel it was very hard to get into the U.S. I think the most interesting part of the story was very sad. It was when they wouldn't let him in because he got a black eye. That was when he hit his eye on a basket. So they wrote an E on his jacket. It stood for eye. He turned his jacket inside out to get into America. That took a lot of courage.