This post is supporting my week long look at just some of Russell Freedman’s collection of work.

Title: Immigrant Kids
Author: Russell Freedman
ISBN: 0140375945
Pages: 72 pages
Publisher/Date: Puffin Books, c1980.

As immigrant kids went through the school system, they were transformed from foreigners into young Americans. They learned about American heroes, American folklore, and the workings of American government. They absorbed American manners and customs. They became experts on American fads, fashions, and slang. Youngsters entering school often could be identified as little Italians, Greeks, Russians, or Poles. When they left school, they looked, talked, and acted just like other American kids. (36-37)

In what I can only assume is one of Freedman’s first books, I wasn’t as impressed with this book as some of the other ones. The book contained some pages where massive amounts of white space gave the impression that the printers had forgotten to include a photo. Freedman quotes large passages from first hand accounts of that time period, but provides little statistical data regarding immigrants and their children. At only 72 pages long, which includes a three page index, I believe it’s also the shortest book I’ve read by Freedman so far. The book ends abruptly, emphasizing that these kids who played in the street, “those of them that are still alive” (66) are now great-grandparents (or great-great grandparents as the case may be at present time). While grainy photographs accompany many of the two page spreads, instead of emphasizing the environment and lifestyle they seem to act more as filler.

I really dislike the cover, which features a couple of chubby-cheeked immigrant children. One that’s a little more appealing to kids is on page 24, which features four children building a tent on the fire escape. There were several other more striking photos included in the book that I felt would have made better covers. I felt there could have been more to this book, especially all the great research that he has done for his other books. The connection that I usually feel for the subjects of his book just wasn’t there with this one, and I’m quite disappointed.

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