Nathan’s Song

Dial. Feb. 2021. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781984815781.
Gr 1-3–The tale of Nathan, who has always loved to sing. His neighbors in his Russian shtet all taught him their songs: “He can lift your heart with his voice.” From the time he hears an Italian opera singer visiting in a neighboring village, his dream is to study and sing opera; he works to raise the money until his parents judge him old enough to follow that dream. Digital illustrations in bold colors reimagine folk art, with scenes of forest, houses, and city streets. Ish-Shalom’s illustrations lead readers’ eyes through the portholes of a large ship, or across docks and city streets, in colorful art that finds contrasts and details of sharply defined and solid characters. Nathan’s journey takes him across the ocean, but not to the country and city of his dreams. Within minutes of the ship’s launch, he realizes he is on his way to New York, not Italy. From that moment, life is an adventure, and Nathan is always singing—from his earned passage in steerage to fancy dinners across the Atlantic, on street corners in New York, at weddings or onstage, and in meeting the love of his life. Inspired by the life of her grandfather who actually traveled first to another country while immigrating, Schubert recalls in an author’s note the love of her family and the joy of their reuniting, reflected in the final page of illustrations that feature a joyous swirl of musical notes on a background of bold yellow that highlights families of different races and ethnicities in happy embrace.
VERDICT This title pays tribute to courageous individuals, with an underlying message of the unbroken connection of family love.

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