This beautiful blending of words and pictures tells the story of how Emma Lazarus, author of the familiar words: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free,” grew up wealthy and protected, came to care for, and help the immigrants arriving in America, many of them Jews like her, and how through her writing, she attempted to turn public opinion toward a greater acceptance of these new Americans-to-be.
The book works well to link the past with the present, with the cover showing people of many cultures in the present day, looking out over the water to the iconic figure of the Statue of Liberty. The choice to place a facsimile of “The New Colossus,” with its old-fashioned script on the flyleaf, plunges the reader into the past, and sets the stage for the story to come. The picture of the Statue under construction, followed a few pages later with the completed Statue, bring the story full circle. Even the use of old family photographs with the author and illustrator information serves to show the timeless meaning of the Statue and the poem.
The pictures are full of detail, and the pages laid-out with lots of space, inviting the reader to take time over the story. The author’s note giving more detail about Lazarus’s short life, and the full text of the poem will interest older readers who may want to know more.
The book reflects the importance Jews place on the work of Tikkun Olam, the repairing of the world, as it tells the story of a young Jewish woman who did what she could to make the world a better place for others, and it is also a book that celebrates the fact that ours is a nation of immigrants.