Welcome to America, Champ

 
Cover: Welcome to America, Champ
 
 

During World War II thousands of American servicemen were stationed overseas in various countries. It is in England that American GI Jack Ricker meets and marries an English widow with a nine-year-old son, Thomas. Thomas likes his new stepfather and he's hopeful about their future. But now with the war over, Jack is back in America. Thomas and his mother make plans to leave England and join him. Thomas is apprehensive about moving. He won't know anyone, apart from Jack. In America, they play baseball and not cricket. Will he fit in? Thomas and his mother find themselves on a trans-Atlantic voyage on the Queen Mary, sailing to America and a new life. They're not alone; hundreds of other "Brides and Babies" are on board, making the same trip with the same dreams. When Thomas helps another passenger handle feelings of homesickness, he realizes he is prepared to start his new American life.

Details

Specifications

  • Dewey: E
  • Graphics: Full-color illustrations
  • Hardcover (9781585366064): 32 pages, 9 (w) x 11 (h), © 2013, 03/01/2013
  • PDF (9781627530170): 32 pages, © 2013, 04/15/2013
  • Hosted ebook (9781627535625): 32 pages, © 2014, 08/15/2013
  • Series: Tales of the World

Leveling

  • Suggested Interest Level: Age 6 - Age 9
  • Suggested Reading Level: Grade 3
  • ATOS Reading Level: 3.1
  • ATOS Interest Level: LG
  • Accelerated Reader® Quiz: 161646
  • Accelerated Reader® Points: 0.5

BISAC Subjects

Awards

  • 2014 Bank Street Best Books of the Year for Children, Winner, 2014

Reviews

The Children's Bookshelf Reviews "Welcome to America, Champ"

Welcome to America, Champ, written by Catherine Stier and illustrated by Doris Ettlinger, is a beautifully detailed story of young Thomas and his widowed mother who marries a young soldier stationed in England during World War II. Readers will delight in the celebration of the wedding of Thomas’s mother and the young soldier, Jack and a relationship that develops between Jack and young Thomas.

Thomas knows that when the war is over, he and his mother will move far away to America and while he is excited, it makes him sad to think about leaving his grandparents. While the war continues, Jack is sent away to fight and during his absence Thomas’s new brother is born. Soon after that, they learn that the war has ended and that Jack is safe back in the United States. During the next several months, Thomas, his mother and his new baby brother, Ronnie, receive letters from Jack with the promise of their move across the sea.

When the word finally arrives of their departure to America, Thomas, his mother, and baby Ronnie prepare for their trip. His grandparents throw a going away party and his grandfather gives Thomas some beautiful carvings to take with him on his journey. They will spend five days at sea on their trip to America. During that time, Thomas makes friends with a young girl named Lucy who is also traveling to America. Early in the morning on the fifth day, someone raps on the cabin door to tell them that they can see the statue of liberty. As Thomas and his friend Lucy look at Lady Liberty, they realize that they are nearly to the shores of their new home. Hours later, a soldier with a microphone calls out his mom’s name and as they walked down the gangway, a band plays and they see Jack wave. Within moments, Jack embraces his soldier bride and sons completing the journey of immigration.

Readers also learn that tens of thousands of soldier brides across the Atlantic in much the same way as Thomas and his mother did. These brides king from over 50 countries and left their homes to start new lives with their soldier husbands in United States.

Catherine Stier provides readers with another look at immigration and its impact on families, while the stunning illustrations done by Doris Ettlinger provide a beautiful backdrop to this narrative.

Welcome to America, Champ, written by Catherine Stier and illustrated by Doris Ettlinger is an important piece of historical fiction and is appropriate for ages 6 to 10.

Reading.org Reviews "Welcome to America, Champ!"

As WWII ends Thomas, his mother, and his new baby brother leave their home in England to join his new family in the United States. Thomas’s stepfather is a soldier, and while Thomas looks forward to his new life in Chicago, he is anxious about what things will be like in his new school and new home. Before leaving his familiar surroundings, he questions his stepfather about what things are like in the United States, and takes notes on scraps of paper to help him navigate a new world. While he draws strength from the notes, he also helps encourage an anxious young fellow passenger with a special gift that has given him encouragement. The softly-colored illustrations and inviting text pay tribute to war brides and their families and the sacrifices they made in coming to America. Young readers will quickly identify with Thomas’s mingled fears and excitement as they realize that moving to a new country offers challenges as well as hope for the future. Although readers may know about the existence of war brides, they are unlikely to realize that there were so many of them and that the movement of these women to their new homes was known as “Operation Diaper Run.” Filled with colorful illustrations and text, the book effectively evokes the particular time when citizens across the world celebrated the end of a bloody war. That universal feeling of hope pulses through this title.

Booklist Reviews "Welcome to America, Champ!"

The luxurious Queen Mary oceanliner once sailed with diapers drying on clotheslines suspended over the ship’s emptied swimming pool. Why? This was part of a unique cargo transported by luxury liners in 1946: tens of thousands of “soldier brides” and their children who immigrated at the end of World War II to reunite with the U.S. servicemen they had married overseas. This entry into the Tales of the World series shines a vivid light on war’s upheavals by focusing on fictional Thomas, a nine-year-old boy who faces leaving home, friends, grandparents, and his beloved cricket for the U.S., a new father, a new school, and the strange sport of baseball. A wedding cake made by friends’ saving up sugar and powdered eggs for weeks and a view from the train into London of the Blitz’s devastation bring home war’s everyday hardship and trauma. At the same time, Thomas is moving into a hopeful future. Heartfelt watercolor illustrations bring to life the anxiety and tentative joys of this unique historical situation.

Booklist Reviews "Welcome to America, Champ!"

The luxurious Queen Mary ocean liner once sailed with diapers drying on clotheslines suspended over the ship’s emptied swimming pool. Why? This was part of an unusual cargo transported by luxury liners in 1946: tens of thousands of “soldier brides” and their children who immigrated at the end of WWII to reunite with the U.S. servicemen they had married overseas. This entry into the Tales of the World series shines a vivid light on war’s upheavals by focusing on fictional Thomas, a nine-year-old boy who faces leaving home, friends, grandparents, and his beloved cricket for the U.S., a new father, a new school, and the strange sport of baseball. A wedding cake made by friends’ saving up sugar and powdered eggs for weeks and a view from the train into London of the Blitz’s devastation bring home war’s everyday hardship and trauma. At the same time, Thomas is moving into a hopeful future. Heartfelt watercolor illustrations bring to life the anxiety and tentative joys of this unique historical situation.

Reading Today Online Reviews "Welcome to America, Champ!"

As WWII ends Thomas, his mother, and his new baby brother leave their home in England to join his new family in the United States. Thomas’s stepfather is a soldier, and while Thomas looks forward to his new life in Chicago, he is anxious about what things will be like in his new school and new home. Before leaving his familiar surroundings, he questions his stepfather about what things are like in the United States, and takes notes on scraps of paper to help him navigate a new world. While he draws strength from the notes, he also helps encourage an anxious young fellow passenger with a special gift that has given him encouragement. The softly-colored illustrations and inviting text pay tribute to war brides and their families and the sacrifices they made in coming to America. Young readers will quickly identify with Thomas’s mingled fears and excitement as they realize that moving to a new country offers challenges as well as hope for the future. Although readers may know about the existence of war brides, they are unlikely to realize that there were so many of them and that the movement of these women to their new homes was known as “Operation Diaper Run.” Filled with colorful illustrations and text, the book effectively evokes the particular time when citizens across the world celebrated the end of a bloody war. That universal feeling of hope pulses through this title.

Contributors

Author: Catherine Stier

Catherine Stier has authored several children’s books and numerous magazine and newspaper articles. Honors for her children’s books include the IRA Los Angeles’ 100 Best Books and the Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Books of the Year, among others, and she has conducted book signings at Mount Rushmore and the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Born in Michigan, Catherine now lives in San Antonio, Texas.

Illustrator: Doris Ettlinger

Doris Ettlinger has illustrated numerous children’s books including Sugar Snow and A Little House Birthday, both adapted from the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. She graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design. Doris lives and works in a 150-year-old gristmill in western New Jersey with her family and a Welsh Corgi.