Friday, June 19, 2009


I just happened to read two books since Tuesday that both deal with immigration. Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cuba by Margarita Engle is a novel written in verse about Daniel, who has escaped Nazi Germany, ending up in Cuba, after New York turns his ship away. He is alone, not yet an adult, without his parents who saved to buy him his ticket to leave the country. While this story is told mostly from Daniel's perspective, Paloma, a Cuban girl also narrates for a time. She tries to help the refugees despite her father's interest only in how much money the refugees will make for him because he charges them money to enter his country. David, an older man also narrates about his own arrival in Cuba many years ago. While Daniel can hardly fathom living his entire life in Cuba, David does show him his eventual acceptance of Cuba as his home.

I have read other reviews of this book, and all have been glowing. I enjoyed it as well, especially learning more about the European refugees that fled to Cuba, as I had never heard about that chapter in history. I think my students will especially like that it is written in verse - the text won't overwhelm them, yet they will have gained understanding of something that is not found in lower reading level books.
Denied, Detained, Deported: Stories from the Dark Side of American Immigration by Ann Bausum is a National Geographic book covering the topic of immigration. I enjoyed this nonfiction selection a great deal. This book includes an introduction and closing as well as a chapter on three different immigration issues in United States history. The first happened to be the European refugees fleeing Nazi Germany and featured one family in particular who was on a ship that the United States refused entry. This ship had also tried entering Cuba ony to have almost all of the refugees refused entry into that country as well. Considering I had never heard of European refugees fleeing to Cuba before Tuesday, it was especially noted. One chapter discusses Japanese immigration and how the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the subsequent deportation of Japanese Americans to camps occurred. The final chapter centers around the immigration of Mexican Americans and how this has changed over the course of years. A timeline is included in the back as are a resource guide and index. The black and white photographs are wonderful to look at and helped me connect a face with the story each chapter tells. This book will be a great resource in my elementary library for students interested in immigration. While the reading level will be too high for some of them, I could see them being very interested in the topic.

No comments: