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Friday, May 20, 2016

Their Great Gift: Courage, Sacrifice, and Hope in a New Land, written by John Coy with photographs by Wing Young Huie. Carolrhoda Books, Thomas Allen & Son. 2016. $30.99 ages 6 and up

"They opened their businesses
and poured all that they had
into them.
They shifted between languages,

between cultures,

between places."

While this book is filled with the exceptional diversity in the faces of people who have come to the United States to live, it is a book about many nations of the world that welcome immigrants from far-off places. It tells the story of those many families who took the extraordinarily brave step of moving from the place they called home to find a new life in a brand new environment.

Many followed a dream, fraught with great danger and adversity, to find a place in a country where they knew little of the language, the culture, the many obstacles that might stand in their way. Theirs are stories of courage, setbacks, hard work, and the determination that allows a better life for their families. These wonderful people have added to the fabric of the countries they chose to call their new home, while often supporting those they left behind them.

John Coy's text is straightforward and simple; that does not diminish the emotional quality of the telling. His words help readers understand clearly how immigrants are the same as we are ...  they love their families, work hard to provide for them, worship as we do. Our similarities are many,
simply not always so easy to see.

Wing Young Huie does a masterful job of capturing the people who come from many cultural backgrounds and counties. They are in photographed in black and white and in color,  and show children, adults and those of advanced age at work, at play, at home. I have gone back again and again to study their proud, happy, serious, even sad faces.

All readers are left to ponder the serious and important question that ends the text:

"What will we do with THEIR GREAT GIFT?"

The creators tell their own 'arrival stories' in appended matter, and share a description of the making of this fine and necessary book.

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