It is 1918 and Rivka cannot wait to go to school. But she is told the night before, she must stay home as her father has the flu and her mother needs help taking care of her younger sister, while she works. The Lower East Side of New York City comes alive with how one plucky young girl finds a way to get the education she needs. She trades chores for reading and math lessons. And when her father is finally well, all her hard work pays off.
Laurie Wallmark’s story, Rivka’s Presents, is sweet, informative, and fresh. There is a lot going on and we see everything in lovely text, and the wonderful illustrations of Adellina Wallmark. They are bold, busy, and reflect the colors of the times and place. Perhaps they look a bit too “clean” to be a true representation of the era, but what is there works for having a good presentation.
This is a book you will enjoy. There is nothing really “bad” (outside of the fathers long illness), but does not shy away from the issues a Jewish girl (or an immigrant family) would face back then. Aimed for the older children, this book will be just in time for a back to school gift, as it is due in July 2023. Read via an online reader copy, I do want to see a finished copy. I also see this as a great gift for teachers and history fans. And the art of Adelina Lirus is delightful and is full. There are the sights and sounds of time, the colors are expressive and they are packed. All the goodness you need is there.
Wallmark is the author of The Queen of Chess: How Judit Polgár Changed the Game, also due in July, that was equally well done, but is non-fiction.