At Home in a New Land by Joan Sandin

At Home in a New Land by Joan Sandin

Loren Van De Griek

February 10, 2010

Immigration Story Summaries

At Home in a New Land by Joan Sandin

2007 – Harper Collins

This is a beautiful story with fabulous illustrations throughout that really enhance the meaning of the words on each page. A family, from Sweden, moves to Minnesota where their cousins are already. The father has to leave to work at a logging camp. He asks his oldest son, Carl Erik, to be the “man of the house.” Carl Erik is excited and takes his “job” seriously. Every day he milks the cows, feeds the animals, and sets out traps.

Carl Erik also attends school where he was made fun of because he didn’t speak English. This made Erik Carl more determined to learn English. One day Carl Erik stayed home while his family went to town. A visitor came to the house. Because of the language barrier, it was hard for Carl Erik to figure out that he wanted food.

Christmas was just around the corner and their house was filled with Swedish decorations as well as some American traditions. However, each morning Carl Erik woke up to empty traps and felt he was letting his family down, especially his father. One day they heard a noise outside and thought it might be their father. When they opened the door, they found a huge slab of meat! Carl Erik asked, “Where did this come from?” The mother explained that since he shared with their good neighbors, now they are sharing with them.

Christmas arrived and father came home to a feast. He was so proud of Carl Erik. That night they went to bed, but first had to hang their stockings. Carl Erik was confused, because his stockings were not wet.

Silent Movie by Avi

2003 – Atheneum Books for Young Readers

This is an amazing story that reads just like a silent movie. There are not many words, but the black-and-white images stand out to tell this beautiful story about a family that moves from Sweden to America and has some problems.

Papa leaves first and six months later Mama and Gustave join him. When they land in New York, they don’t find Papa. Mama and Gustave do not speak English and set out alone. They encounter a thief. They sleep on the streets. They find a friend who helps Mama get work. Meanwhile Papa still looks for his family.

A movie director hires Gustave, and he becomes a star in silent movies. While taking a break and watching a movie, Papa sees his son on the big screen. He races to find Gustave. Finally, they are reunited and become a new American family.

The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco

1988 – Scholastic

This is a beautiful story about a quilt and how it is the key to keeping the author’s family “together.” When Great-Gramma Anna came to America from Russia, the only she had left from home was her dress and babushka. Eventually, she outgrew the dress. So, her mother took her dress along with clothes from other family members and made a quilt to help them remember home. This quilt was passed down from generation to generation in a special way. At first, it was a tablecloth for the family dinners on Friday nights to start the Sabbath. It then became the huppa (what Russian couples marry under) at Great-Gramma’s wedding. When Grandma Carle was born, she was wrapped in the quilt. Then, it was used as Carle’s huppa and wrapped Carle’s first born, Mary Ellen. It continued down the family as huppas, blankets, and tablecloths. Each time the quilt was used it reminded the family of back home in Russia.