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Nonfiction Monday: Ellis Island: Coming to the Land of Liberty

[caption id="attachment_237" align="alignleft" width="140" caption="Ellis Island: Coming to the Land of Liberty, by Raymond Bial"]

Ellis Island: Coming to the Land of Liberty, by Raymond Bial. Published 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children.

Ellis Island: Coming to the Land of Liberty is a fine, straightforward account of the history behind one of America's most famous landmarks, Ellis Island, and the many people from all over the world who passed through its gates.

Illustrated throughout by photographs of archival material and modern-day buildings, the book begins with the famous poem by Emma Lazarus (see last week's Nonfiction Monday for a lovely picture book about Lazarus) and takes the reader, immigrant's-eye style, through the process of entering the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Author Raymond Bial, a photographer and prolific author, covers such topics as the "buttonhook test" for disease and others in an authoritative yet accessible style.

Readers see passports used by immigrants, exhibits of clothing and personal effects- even a mattress slept on by children in steerage class. Bial also talks about the "nativist" anti-immigration movement and other trends in American politics that affected how immigrants were viewed and treated. In the end, Bial quotes Harry Truman's statements reinforcing the benefit to the nation of accepting people "from every race and from every quarter of the world.

Ellis Island is  inspiring and informative look at an important chapter in American history.

Nonfiction Monday is a moving meme headquartered at Picture Book of the Day and hosted this week at 100 Scope Notes.
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