When Jessie Came Across the Sea

by Amy Hest

Other authorsPatrick Lynch (Illustrator)
Paperback, 1999



Call number




Walker Books Ltd (1999), 40 pages


A thirteen-year-old Jewish orphan reluctantly leaves her grandmother and immigrates to New York City, where she works for three years sewing lace and earning money to bring Grandmother to the United States, too.

User reviews

LibraryThing member t1bclasslibrary
Jessie is a Jewish girl who gets a chance to come to America. She uses her lacemaking ability to earn money to bring her grandmother to her in time for her wedding. This story of immigration is filled with hope and happiness.
LibraryThing member STBA
A thirteen-year-old Jewish orphan reluctantly leaves her grandmother and immigrates to New York City, where she works for three years sewing lace and earning money to bring Grandmother to the United States, too.
LibraryThing member pamelasmith
Grades 3-8; I liked reading this book, it has a very good ending.
LibraryThing member mel2209
When Jessie Came Across the Sea is a beautifully illustrated book about a 13 year old girl and how she came to America, and her new life once she arrived. It tells about the emotional worry and concern of the immigrants for the ones they left behind and how important it is to save money to bring
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them over. For Jessie this was especially true regarding her grandmother. Once she was finally able to afford to get her grandma to America her life really was able to move forward.

I loved this book. It has beautiful pictures with a wonderful story to go with them. Although it tells a hard story, the one of immigrants coming to America and what they thought it would be like, it is a easy story to read and really draws you in to the feelings of Jessie and what she must be going through. I don't think young children would understand this story, it is best suited for children about third grade to sixth.

This book would be an excellent addition to a lesson on immigration. Although it is fiction, it would help the students understand why people come to America, and what they go through when they first arrive. It would also be good for an art lesson, since it is wonderfully illustrated. Finally, this would be a good book for a lesson about travel during different times. In the book Jessie had to travel by boat and walk, and mail took weeks to get anywhere. Some children may not understand life without airplanes and internet and this would be a good story to show how life was before.
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LibraryThing member sjordet
A fictional tale based on the real life jouney many immigrants took to get to America, "When Jessie Came Across the Sea" follows the scary and uncertain path thirteen year old Jessie takes. After a rabbi elects to send Jessie to America to assist his brother's widow, Jessie must deal with leaving
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her grandmother behind and starting a new life in America. While the weather and long boat ride to Ellis Island are daunting, Jessie finds friendship and eventually love with another immigrant, Lou. Jessie starts a new life for herself in New York City but never loses connection with her grandmother overseas.

"When Jessie Came Across the Sea" tells the story of a young immigrant in an interesting and realistic fashion. Jessie's fear of leaving her home and family and embarking on an uncertain journey are vivdly depicted. The hope for a better life in America and the new beginning Jessie found are symbolic of the feelings and experiences many immigrants had in the late nineteenth/early twentieth centuries.
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LibraryThing member benuathanasia
Beautifully illustrated!!! I like how the lessons Jessie and her grandmother learned early on in the book (learning to sew and learning to read) came back to be useful to them later on. The ending was absolutely adorable (if not a cloying), but I won't give it away!
LibraryThing member a.stone5
This book gives us a look into what it would be like when America was the new and exciting "promised land" for everyone. It takes us through the life of a little girl who is chosen to move to America and how she makes a living for herself. It mixes in a lovely little romance, and a heartwarming
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family situation. This story would be wonderful for older children around 4th or 5th grade.
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LibraryThing member pussreboots
When Jessie Came Across the Sea by Amy Hest is a historical fiction picture book about a Jewish immigrant who is sent to America by her village's rabbi. She is picked due to her Grandmother's determination to get her a good education — learning both how to read and write, and sewing — a skill
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that gives her a job when she arrives in New York.

The book covers Jessie's childhood in the village, her trip across the sea and her years of living and working in New York. Her time in New York is chronicled through letters home to her grandmother.

Though a picture book, it's a coming of age story that will appeal to older readers as well. It could be used as part of an Ellis Island lesson in school.

The story is accompanied by illustrations done by P.J. Lynch. He won Kate Greenway Medal for his work on When Jessie Came Across the Sea.
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LibraryThing member kkerns3
Summary: This story is about a Jewish girl named Jessie who lives in a small village with her grandmother. Her grandmother teaches Jessie how to sew lace and in return Jessie teaches her how to read and write. When the rabbi in their village learns that his brother in New York dies he gives his
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ticket to Jessie so she may travel to America. On the trip Jessie meets many people and she sews lace for them. When she arrives she works in her cousin's dress shop as an assistant. One day in the park Jessie sees Lou a boy that she met on the ship and they agree to get married. Jessie saves up her money to buy a ticket for her Grandmother to come to America so that she is there when Jessie gets married.

Review: I think this book is a good way to introduce the concept of immigration to students. Unlike some of the other books I have read this book focuses more on immigration many years ago. The detailed illustrations and the text connect to each other seamlessly which enhances the story itself. The author includes short letters that Jessie has written to her Grandmother to show the continued connection between them despite being across the ocean from one another. She also puts some words in italics to show Jessie's thoughts. There is not much dialogue in the book which puts the focus on Jessie's personal thoughts and experiences. Even though this book is not set in the modern era it is still clear that Jessie struggled to adjust to life in America.
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LibraryThing member MManzo2
When Jessie Came Across the Sea is an intriguing story about immigration. I liked this story because it gave insight into what it was like to be an immigrant. The main character, Jessie had to be very brave to go to America and leave her most loved one, her grandmother, behind. At the beginning of
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Jessie’s journey she cries on the boat but as she gets further along she starts to make new friends. Once she sees New York City for the first time she is mesmerized by the tall building. I have seen tall buildings all my life so this is not what I would think about going to a new place, but for an immigrant, tall buildings are just one of the possible new things that they will experience in America, that they have never seen before. I also like the illustrations in the story because they were very realistic and detailed. The author really painted a picture of the events described in the text and showed a lot of emotion in the grandmother’s face, when she is reunited with Jessie. The main idea of the story is new beginnings and facing personal fears. Jessie was scared to move away from her grandmother but she ended up facing her fear and moving to America and ends up becoming a great new beginning, which ends in a marriage for her.
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LibraryThing member TimGordon
This book could be read in an interactive read aloud to second graders. They would enjoy the good illustrations and the adventure to America. An interactive read aloud would be used because it would allow for you to ask them questions about immigration into America back then and connect it to
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future reads.
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Nebraska Golden Sower Award (Nominee — 2000)
Young Hoosier Book Award (Nominee — Intermediate — 2000)
Sequoyah Book Award (Nominee — Children's — 2000)
Sydney Taylor Book Award (Winner — 1997)
Utah Beehive Book Award (Nominee — Children's Picture — 2000)


Original language


Original publication date



0439137020 / 9780439137027
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