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Skating with the Statue of Liberty Hardcover – April 12, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—In this follow-up to Black Radishes (Delacorte, 2010), Meyer continues the story of a French Jew named Gustave, now 12, who emigrates with his parents to safety in the United States during World War II. Based on memories from the author's father, the story rings true as Gustave starts school at the Joan of Arc Junior High in New York City. His challenges learning English and navigating American culture make for a difficult start for the protagonist, along with his worries about his best friend, Marcel, whom he left behind in France to an uncertain fate. His friendship with September Rose, an African American girl at his school, makes his life easier in some ways, but he also encounters threats for being friends with someone of a different race. Eventually, he joins a French Boy Scout troop, which bring him pleasure, and he begins to fit in at school as his English improves. Letters from a friend in France, though censored by the Nazis, bring news from home and help Gustave appreciate the freedoms he now enjoys. Meyer brings in some very realistic details to the story, such as Gustave's mother's struggle at the grocery store, where bargaining is not customary as it was in France; the family's first experience with a banana; and Gustave's negative reaction to police officers. Gustave is disappointed to encounter racism and religious intolerance in America, where he finds "liberty and justice for all" is not always the case. September Rose has a teenage brother heavily involved in the Double V Campaign against racial segregation. The interaction between black teens and the New York City police is disturbingly similar to current newspaper headlines. Despite the heavy topics covered, the everyday details of the story guide readers, allowing them to enjoy following Gustave's entry into the United States and his growth toward appreciating all that's ahead for him in his new home. Meyer doesn't try to pretty up Gustave's experience, lending this work a strong note of authenticity. VERDICT Although not a book likely to fly off the shelves, it should still be considered a first purchase for its strong historical content, rich descriptions, and smart subtleties about the links between history and current events.—Kathy Kirchoefer, Henderson County Public Library, NC
A Junior Library Guild Selection
"This rich story reminds us that America can be at its best as a melting pot. A page-turner for all the right reasons." —VINCE VAWTER, Newbery Honor–winning author of Paperboy
"I love everything about this poignant story, especially the gorgeous prose, which brings to life such an important slice of American history in a way I haven't seen before. Simply put, this heartfelt book is a masterpiece."--SHANA BURG, author of A Thousand Never Evers and Laugh with the Moon
“The everyday details of the story guide readers, allowing them to enjoy following Gustave’s entry into the United States and his growth toward appreciating all that’s ahead for him in his new home. . . . Strong historical content, rich descriptions, and smart subtleties about the links between history and current events.”—School Library Journal
“Readers may gradually start to think of the characters as close friends. . . . The conflict might feel like it's happening to people the readers have always known. A sweet book that readers will find sneaks up on them.”—Kirkus Reviews
"Well paced with fully realized characters, this provides a textured look at race, refugees, war, and the process of creating a new life."--Booklist
Top customer reviews
In both novels about Gustave, Meyer creates her characters and her world with a clear, honest eye, mixed with compassion and optimism. Meyer shows how a boy like Gustave discovers choices to make, and has a sense of pride in his choices. Faced with his family's poverty, upon their first arrival in New York, he finds a job delivering laundry. Faced with feeling silly in his French clothes, he is able to save enough money for real "American" ones. Faced with prejudice against his rabbi, himself, or his best friend September Rose -- who is African American -- Gustave and his friends come up with the best solutions possible, often showing support for each other.
This story is one that all children will relate to easily. Gustave has spirit, sensitivity, joy, and troubles. Children will follow his decisions and experiences with avidity, and they will feel great satisfaction upon the novel's beautiful culmination.