Monday, June 10, 2013

The Orphan of Ellis Island

The Orphan Of Ellis Island (Time Travel Adventures)Review hereis part of Elvira Woodruff's Time Travel Adventure series.

This is a departure from the time traveling characters introduced in her previous novel George Washington's Socks (Time Travel Adventures) that spent two books visiting the American Revolution. She also takes a different approach to visiting the past in this book.

Our hero in this novel is a foster child, Dominic Cantori. Dominic has just left another foster placement and arrived at a new home and school in time for a trip to Ellis Island. Feeling left out and uncomfortable he tells a lie about knowing something about his family history and fears being mocked by his new classmates. In order to avoid their rath, he ducks out of the tour and hides out falling asleep in his hiding place, awaking after the museum has closed for the night.

While exploring, he returns to an exhibit he visited earlier in the day, which has telephones one can pick up and hear the voices of immigrants who tell of their experiences coming through Ellis Island. Frustrated and alone, he hopes one will answer him back and finally one does, leading us to his time travel adventure. This is where the story is less convincing than the previous novels she wrote. The other two are based on old themes of time travel portals in the mist. This one leaves the reader wondering if the boy time traveled or had a psychic experience connecting to the people who went before him. At the end, even he wonders if he has had a dream. That was one of harder parts of the book to accept as real.

The story itself was better. Dominic finds himself in Italy and most readers will likely understand who he is with long before the author tells you at the end. He meets up with a group of orphan boys who the local priest has found homes for in American. Their need to travel is heightened when the boys run into some legal trouble. Tragedy strikes and Dominic finds himself taking one of the boy's places on the trip to America.

For someone looking for information on Ellis Island, this book covers more of the immigration experience than the experience at Ellis Island. The detailed descriptions of the challenges the children faced in Italy, their reasons for leaving, and the conditions of their journey are great background information. However, for a book that has a title of The Orphan of Ellis Island, one would expect more information about the actual experience of getting through Ellis Island. This was almost an afterthought. The information is minimal. I also would have liked more resolution to Dominic's story after he leaves Ellis Island. While I did not expect a fairy tale ending, it would have been nice to know what happened to him in his new foster situation.

Over the years, I have read a few novels geared for children about Irish immigration. This is one of the first I have read about the journey for Italian immigrants. Parents and teachers who are looking to provide children with information about that experience may want to read this before using it with their children, but I would recommend it for that purpose.

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