Association of Jewish Libraries reviews THREE STARS IN THE NIGHT SKY

  • February 19, 2019
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Chapman, Fern Schumer. Three Stars in the Night Sky: A Refugee Family’s Odyssey of Separation and Reunion. Illus. by Tom Greensfelder. Lake Bluff: Gussie Rose Press, 2018. 54 pp. $17.99. (9780996472548). Gr. 7-12.
The author shares the biography of Gerda Katz, who fled Nazi Germany at the age of 12 and came to America by herself. Like the author’s mother, who befriended Gerda on the boat to America with the One Thousand Children project, Gerda was placed with a sponsoring foster family, and lost contact with the author’s mother. Gerda’s life in Seattle was difficult – missing her family, learning a new language, assimilating into a foreign culture. The rest of Gerda’s family managed to escape to the Dominican Republic where their lives were also very hard. Gerda never stopped longing to be reunited with them. After over 20 years of separation, Gerda’s family was allowed to emigrate. The book ends describing the reunion of Gerda and the author’s mother, after 73 years of separation, arranged by students from an Illinois middle school who became engaged in the story. Three Stars in the Night Sky deftly illuminates the personal damage caused by racism in Nazi Germany, the Dominican Republic, and the United States during the 1930s and 1940s.
Well written information about events in history that impacted Gerda’s life is detailed: explanations of other waves of child immigration, the rise of Hitler, the Jewish school Gerda attended, the Evian Conference, the rule of Trujillo and the reason Jews immigrated to the Dominican Republic, Japanese internment. A superbly artistic layout of text, photographs, and historical artifacts documents the details of Gerda’s past. End matter includes credits for the sixty photos. Front and back inside covers display correspondence between Gerda and her family. It is a slim, picture book sized volume akin to Chapman’s Like Finding My Twin and Stumbling on History, produced in landscape, rather than portrait direction. Combine this and Chapman’s four other titles – Motherland for adults, Is It Night or Day?for middle school grades, Like Finding My Twin and Stumbling on History for a compelling congregational or community read.
Debbie Colodny, Cook Memorial Public Library District, Libertyville, IL. Former owner Sefer, So Good, and former member Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee.