Rachel’s Roses

Holiday House. Aug. 2019. 112p. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780823443659.
Gr 2-4–Third-grader Rachel Bergen lives in a tenement on New York City’s Lower East Side in the early 20th century. She plays street games with her friends, gets advice from her grandmother, and does her best to avoid her needy little sister, Hannah. When Rachel finds a fancy set of buttons that will make her Rosh Hashanah skirt stand out from Hannah’s, she devises a scheme to earn enough money to afford it. Eventually Rachel learns that her sister and her family are worth more than material goods. Charming black-and-white drawings include many details from the story, and the clear, simple prose and plot make this ideal for readers nearly ready to graduate from chapter books. The story skillfully depicts elements of Jewish life and the time period. Examples include the ingredients for kugel and egg creams, women working 14-hour days in sweatshops, and that many of Rachel’s neighbors are recent immigrants. Those who have read Sydney Taylor’s “All-of-a-Kind Family” series will find this a familiar and welcome read-alike.
VERDICT A gentle and accessible slice of historical fiction to give to readers moving on from chapter books, or to offer as a gentle read-aloud for younger children.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


Get connected. Join our global community of more than 200,000 librarians and educators.