Author: Laurie Wallmark
Illustrator: Adelina Lirius
Published July 11th, 2023 by Random House Studio
Summary: In this heartwarming story about the importance of community, a little Jewish girl living on the Lower East Side during the flu pandemic of 1918 can’t start school because her father is sick, so she makes a trade with her neighbors: chores for lessons.
It’s 1918 on the Lower East Side of New York City, and Rivka is excited to start school. But when her papa gets sick with the flu, her mama has to go to work at the shirtwaist factory and Rivka needs to stay home and take care of her little sister. But Rivka figures out a way to learn anyway: she trades chores with the grocer, the tailor, and an elderly neighbor for lessons. As the seasons change, Rivka finds she can count pennies for the iceman and read the labels on jars of preserve. And one day, Papa is no longer sick, and Rivka can finally start school! Full kindness and love for your neighbors, here is a story that introduces life on the Lower East Side for a Jewish family during the flu pandemic of 1918.
★ ”Simply told but unexpectedly moving, the narrative honors generations of immigrant families and communities that have done their best to educate their children despite language barriers and poverty.” —Booklist, starred review
“A unique book that would be a great asset to collections.” —School Library Journal
“This tale will be at home in any discussions about American immigration and young people pursuing education despite barriers, as well as those focused more specifically on Jewish immigrants in this period.” —The Bulletin
About the Creators:
Award-winning author Laurie Wallmark writes picture book biographies of women in STEM. Her titles include Code Breaker, Spy Hunter: How Elizebeth Friedman Changed the Course of Two World Wars; Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine, which received four starred reviews and a Cook Prize Honor; Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code; Hedy Lamarr’s Double Life, a Crystal Kite Winner and Cook Prize Honor recipient; and others. Laurie has an MFA in Writing from VCFA and is a former software engineer and computer science professor. You can find Laurie online at www.lauriewallmark.com.
On Twitter: @lauriewallmark
Adelina Lirius is an illustrator based in Stockholm, Sweden. She loves painting imaginary scenes, portraying nature, and depicting the different cultures she grew up with. Adelina is the illustrator of a picture book adaptation of The Secret Garden; The Fort by Laura Perdew; and I, Too, Am Mozart by Audrey Ades, which received a starred review from School Library Journal. Visit her on Instagram @adalinaillustration.
Review: This story of resiliency shows what those hungry for learning will do to make sure they can fill their brains with the knowledge they seek. Rivka finds herself unable to go to school because her father is ill with the 1918 influenza, so she is in charge of her younger sibling. But Rivka searches for a way to help out and to learn–she does this by trading her time and chores for knowledge. Through connections with community members, she learns her letters, arithmetic, and civics. All of these teachers help build the foundation for Rivka’s education!
I loved the combination of the emotional narrative and the realistic and sweet illustrations. It, like Booklist states, is unexpectedly moving because Rivka’s story travels from the pages right into the reader’s heart.
Teaching Tools for Navigation & Discussion Questions: Utilize this author-provided curriculum guide for teaching tools and discussion questions!
Read This If You Love: Historical fiction picture books, Picture books about the love of learning
**Thank you to Barbara at Blue Slip Media for providing a copy for review!!**