Kristina's story demonstrates that while travel, technology, and native country origins have changed, the reasons for coming to America, the struggles and sacrifices to be made, and the courage it requires of an immigrant are still quite similar. With all the multicultural materials available, today’s newcomers may never realize that their neighbors’ great grandparents went through many of the same experiences that they themselves face as recent newcomers.
Kristina is the oldest child of a large, hungry family in Slovakia. She arrives in America after a harrowing voyage in steerage, a nerve-wracking set of examinations at Ellis Island, and a tearful reunion with her mother, who pioneered the way to the U.S. two years before. Kristina’s first job as a live-in babysitter and dishwasher results in her being exploited and to her hunger continuing. She is in constant danger of losing her next job as a lady’s maid because she cannot communicate with her demanding employer as they have no common language.
Kristina's humorous mistakes and embarrassments are common to all newcomers. Historically accurate, and based on a true story, Kristina’s confusions, problems with English, feelings of loneliness, and longing for her family will ring true for today's readers. Strong emotions of the immigrant experience are explored and validated and classes will find plenty to talk about.
When Kristina’s father suffers an accident back in Slovakia, her mother must leave the U.S. At 15, Kristina faces living in America without the guidance of either parent. A surge of compound emotions causes Kristina to collapse; yet she awakens with a new comprehension of her responsibilities in keeping the family alive by staying at her job in America. On her fifteenth birthday, she waves goodbye to her mother but says hello to her future in America.
In addition to being an engaging page-turner, many teaching opportunities will be found in Kristina, 1904: "The Greenhorn Girl":
- Classroom discussion of students’ own experiences
- Social mobility
- The power of a dream.
50 illustrations and a story English language learners can identify with help make the novel comprehensible to high intermediate ELLs and up. Great for recently exited ELLs' book report for mainstream English class.
Recommended for Ages: 11 years old to adult
Illustrations: Len Shalansky