A Sky Full of Song
Susan Lynn Meyer
Union Square Kids
Published April 11, 2023
About A Sky Full of Song
This heartwarming, beautifully written middle-grade historical novel about an untold American frontier story is destined to be a cherished classic.
North Dakota, 1905
After fleeing persecution in the Russian Empire, eleven-year-old Shoshana and her family, Jewish immigrants, start a new life on the prairie. Shoshana takes fierce joy in the wild beauty of the plains and the thrill of forging a new, American identity. But it’s not as simple for her older sister, Libke, who misses their Ukrainian village and doesn’t pick up English as quickly or make new friends as easily. Desperate to fit in, Shoshana finds herself hiding her Jewish identity in the face of prejudice, just as Libke insists they preserve it.
For the first time, Shoshana is at odds with her beloved sister, and has to look deep inside herself to realize that her family’s difference is their greatest strength. By listening to the music that’s lived in her heart all along, Shoshana finds new meaning in the Jewish expression all beginnings are difficult, as well as in the resilience and traditions her people have brought all the way to the North Dakota prairie.
Maybe the quickest way to describe this book is AN AMERICAN TAIL meets LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE. I loved that the story showed both Shoshana’s life in Liubashevka (Ukraine) and her experiences on the farm in North Dakota. The bonds between her and her family members felt very natural– especially as she reconnected to her father and brother, who had been in America for a long time.
One of my favorite characters is, of course, the cat, Zissel. Bringing the cat with her from New York showed so much of Shoshana’s impulsiveness and her love for animals. I loved how that choice had an unexpected outcome, too.
The story briefly acknowledges that the Dakota people were cruelly forced from the land Shoshana’s family has settled on. Shoshana thinks of the way the government in Russia treated her family and empathizes with the plight of indigenous people.
A SKY FULL OF SONG is a sweet story, featuring music, celebrations of faith and family as well as sharing a moment in history with young readers. I had a lot of fun reading this one, and I love that it included a cat!
Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.
Shoshana and her family are Jewish and emigrated from Ukraine.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Boys and a man in town use racist slurs toward Shoshana and her family.
Shoshana’s family affixes a mezuzah to their door, honoring their Jewish faith. They celebrate Shabbos together. Shoshana and her family light a menorah and sing a prayer as part of their celebration of Chanukah. The other girls at school make plans to celebrate Christmas with a performance and decorations at school.
See profanity/crude language content. Boys at school bully Shoshana, and one grabs her wrist, bruising her. A sudden blizzard catches characters off guard, putting their lives and the life of an animal in danger.
Brief reference to men being drunk and laughing or stumbling.
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