Rivka’s Presents

Random House Studio. Jul. 2023. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593482070.
K-Gr 4–Rivka, her sister Miriam, and their parents live on the Lower East Side in New York City in 1918. One morning Rivka wakes up excited to start school, only to be told that her father is sick and will not be able to provide for the family. Her mother has to go out to work. Rivka will be responsible for watching her younger sister Miriam. Rivka is devastated but understands. She enlists the grocery shop owner Mr. Solomon, the tailor Mr. Cohen, and her neighbor Mrs. Langholtz to teach her; in exchange, she helps them clean and deliver items to other customers. In the end, her mother throws Mr. Solomon, Mr. Cohen, and Mrs. Langholtz a party thanking them for educating Rivka. This historical picture book is based on incidents during the 1918 flu pandemic where many people lost their lives due to flu, common cold, and tuberculosis. This book could be used with older elementary children in a unit on pandemics, or the history of cities, when crowding and illness could be a death sentence.
VERDICT A unique book that would be a great asset to collections.

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