Monday, March 20, 2017

Homeschool Review Crew ~ Bessie's Pillow

Strong Learning, Inc.

We had the opportunity to review a wonderful book called Bessie's Pillow by Strong Learning, Inc. Our family loves learning history through real life narratives. This book is the story of a young Jewish woman who travels from Eastern Europe to America alone in 1906. She leaves her parents forever to escape persecutions during the pogroms.

Bessie's Pillow
This is a wonderful, true story based on the life of Linda Silbert's grandmother. The reader follows her journey to America, settling into New York City, finding a job, a brief encounter with the hardships of the Lower East Side, finding love, marriage and motherhood. The story unfolds in a natural way that allows the reader to truly fall in love with Bessie and her family. This book is geared toward teenagers but could be easily understood and enjoyed by younger learners. However, I would give a word of caution. This story is about real life, and real life has heartache. This book deals with premature death on several occasions. My kids would state that I am a big crybaby, and, indeed, I cried twice during this book. All that said, I would still share this book with a younger audience. 
Bessie is a great heroine who inspires the young reader to live a full and productive life. She conquers many trials, finds joy and lives a moral, upstanding life. We used this book as a family read-aloud. My husband read ahead on his own time because he enjoyed it so much. He said this was the best book we read this school year. He loves history, but doesn't usually get so excited about a "children's book". We all enjoyed the book and usually read aloud several chapters a night. The story is clearly written, without having too many characters. It is easy to follow the story and remember the story line, even if you have to put it down for a week due to illness, as we did. 
This website also goes along with the story and is a wonderful supplement. It is filled to the brim with additional information to make the book truly come to life. There are tons of links and a teacher guide with discussion questions. My daughter, who is a dancer, loved exploring all of the links that taught about the history of dance. She was most impressed, or maybe I should say surprised, by the Grizzly Bear dance. My son was more interested in the silent film section and and watched several of the clips. There are also recipes for exciting things like Baked Alaska and Peach Melba. We tried Peach Melba, but I didn't get a photo.

This book gets a thumbs-up from our family. I never expected it to be such a wonderful and thorough history lesson. I loved that it took a slightly different spin on the immigrant story than ones I have read in the past. Most of the stories in the past have focused on the Lower East Side and extreme poverty. This story represented a different immigrant who had some money, skills to find a trade and family/friend connections in the new word. 

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Bessie's Pillow {Strong Learning, Inc. Reviews}
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Blessings, Dawn

1 comment:

  1. So glad you enjoyed the peach melba. Keep dancing that grizzly bear dance!

    Dr. Linda