Robert Kwong at the Yeshiva – an Immigrant’s Story
By Donald Oppenheim
Illustrated by Simone Alexander
Mascot Books (2018); 38 pages
Recommended age range: Primary school
Leaving everything you know and crossing borders to a new life. A new language, new food, new smells, new hopes. A willingness to start from the bottom, work hard, and hope to make new dreams become a reality. If this fails, the long hard process begins again.
This is familiar to Jews across vast stretches of both time and distance. But not only to Jews. Here is a sensitively illustrated and thoughtfully written new children’s book that tells the true story of a family that moved from China to The United States, travelling, from California to New York and then back again.
The book focuses on young Robert – no longer using his Chinese name – as he adjusts to each phase of his family’s journey. He does his best to share his parents’ load at every stage, and justifiably earns their appreciation.
Love of both ice cream and computers then play a surprising role in forging a vital bridge between this young Chinese immigrant and Jewish boys at a yeshiva. The school’s staff and its rabbi offer Robert generous support, as he explores the opportunities and challenges that open up before him.
Sincere mutual respect here combines with open-hearted and open-minded compassion. Together, they make all the difference to Robert being able, at last, to find a path to building a happy and successful life. Well-chosen photographs accompany the delightful illustrations to reinforce this joyful story.
A truly touching and heart-warming tale that offers all children a ray of hope in our turbulent world.