Carousel City: Feivel's Flying Horses
Since last week's selections all contained an immigration theme, I thought I would just continue in the same vein through the month. I had planned to review a series of immigration book around the Fourth of July, but never got to it. Now is as good a time as ever, right? After all, in October we celebrate a man who many people consider to be the first modern European immigrant.
Today's selection, coincidentally, is about another Jewish immigrant. His homeland is never specified, but the title character in Heidi Smith Hyde's Feivel's Flying Horses is a wood carver specializing in fearsome lions and ornate desks for synagogues. When he immigrates to New York, leaving his family behind, he finds work in the Lower East Side making more mundane tables and chairs. One day he finds a job making carousel horses in Coney Island. He earns enough money to send for his family. When the elaborate and beautiful carousel is finally complete, they family is able to ride it together.
I found this to be a lovely, touching story which celebrates many things: the artistic influence immigrants have our culture, the struggles and joys they faced when they came to America, the difficulty of leaving loved ones behind, the potential rewards of hard work (not just monetary) and, of course, the pleasure of a simple carousel ride. Johanna van der Sterre's illustrations are pleasantly nostalgic but not sappy, and she gives us a fun view of old Coney Island (be sure to find the sliders). An author's note gives further historical information.
I think you'll like it.
Read another review at Feathered Quill or Amusing the Zillion.
Read about another Coney Island tradition in Mermaids on Parade.
I have not read it yet, but there is another Carousel/Coney Island/Jewish Immigrant picture book: The Rose Horse.
Big Kid says: I've never ridden a carousel at Coney Island. But we did at Prospect Park.
Little Kid says. Those are horses!