Pier 21: Listen to My Story

Nowadays most newcomers to North America arrive by airplane, but it wasn’t always this way. Between 1928 and 1971, approximately 1.5 million people passed through Pier 21, on the cusp of new lives after arriving in North America by boat. In this pictorial, fact-filled book for young readers, author Christine Welldon shares the true stories of nine children who remember well their voyages over and their first experiences in a new place.

We meet Heili, an Estonian girl whose father captained a tiny 18-person boat crammed with 347 people fleeing communist rule in 1948, and Jamie, a Second World War guest child from Scotland who later returned to North America to live when he grew up. Also included are stories of immigrants from Italy, the Ukraine and the Netherlands, and the children of war brides who came over to reunite with their husbands.

With over forty photos, a glossary, timeline, and sidebar features on the pier itself and the home countries of those who passed through it, Pier 21provides an excellent introduction for children to this key landmark in immigration history.

The Other Half of Life

A heartbreaking novel based on the true story of a World War II voyage.In May of 1939, the SS St. Francis sets sail from Germany, carrying German Jews and other refugees away from Hitler’s regime. The passengers believe they are bound for freedom in Cuba and eventually the United States, but not all of them are celebrating. Fifteen-year-old Thomas is anxious about his parents and didn’t want to leave Germany: his father, a Jew, has been imprisoned and his mother, a Christian, is left behind, alone. Fourteen-year old Priska has her family with her, and she’s determined to enjoy the voyage, looking forward to their new lives. Based on the true story of the MS St. Louis, this historical young adult novel imagines two travelers and the lives they may have lived until events, and immigration laws, conspired to change their fates.