Cover Image: A Sky Full of Song

A Sky Full of Song

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Member Reviews

A Jewish girl and her family face prejudice as they adjust to prairie life in 1905 North Dakota. Vivid and enlightening.
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A refreshing and resilient story of what it was like to be different on the frontier. Shoshanna and her family are new to America and struggling to fit in, but with love and courage, they can find ways to be themselves and build good relationships with the people around them. It's refreshing to see a piece of Jewish history that isn't during World War Two, as Jewish history starts long before then and stretches long after. There may even be some children who learn new things about the misinformation still spreading about Jewish people to this day. Very enjoyable.
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A Sky Full of Song is a must-add to your school’s reading list. This middle grade novel takes is to the American Frontier from the perspective of a Jewish family immigrating from Ukraine. 

Themes of acceptance, persecution, family, faith and strength fill the pages of this story. Bonus point for an awesome cat who accompanies the story’s pages!!
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I received an advance copy via NetGalley.

A Sky Full of Song is a new classic for the middle grade genre, depicting a necessary viewpoint in the pioneer west: that of Jewish immigrants, fleeing pogroms in Ukraine. Shoshana's viewpoint depicts intense awe and love for her new home, love for her large family and cats, and fear of the racism and violence that caused them to flee their old home--only to find that the same darkness exists in America. This is the sort of deftly-done book that manages to be cozy and yet also horrible, because some truly terrible things happen, but those horrors are balanced by hope and love. The writing is lovely, too. The author channels Willa Cather in a wonderful way.
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Shoshana is a young Jewish girl who's family has come to America for a new start away from the antisemitism they face in Eastern Europe. She misses her old home but finds excitement in her new kitten, going to school, and learning how to play the fiddle from her papa. Unfortunately she also learns that antisemitism can be anywhere and that staying true to yourself is not always easy. 

I really loved this, but just a little was in a bittersweet kind of way. I loved Shoshi's character, the way she's there for her family and her devotion to her cats and her determination to learn how to play the fiddle. I think I saw a lot of myself in Shoshi actually. 

In a historical fiction book like this I feel like more often than not the topic of colonization and what happened to the Indigenous people that were there first is not really discussed. I was surprised to read about Shoshi's family discussing what happened to the people but was glad for it. 

The bittersweet part comes in that this book made me ponder how the antisemitism a young Jewish girl in 1909 experienced wasn't so different from the antisemitism I experienced as a child in the early 2000s. This struck me most when the older boys tried to find Shoshi's "horns", no one ever laid a hand on me, but I remember being asked if I had them in elementary school, or classmates accusing me for killing Jesus and being so confused. It's good to have more books discussing antisemitism that are not solely about the Holocaust and this book does a great job of it. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Union Square Kids for making this available in exchange for an honest review!
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A beautiful and enchanting story that you and your children will eat up! Inspirational and uplifting and I look forward to sharing this one with my own children. We live in a time where bad news seems to always surround us and as such I appreciated being able to enjoy a beautiful and uplifting story.
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A Sky Full of Song takes place in 1905 Ukraine (still under Soviet rule), and North Dakota. Shoshona and her family are moving from Ukraine because of the horrible treatment of Jewish people. She and her family have to worry about being forced out of their house and village, and being homeless or worse. Her dad and brother have gone to claim land in North Dakota. The land there is free if you can work it and build your own shelter. Unfortunately, the land was taken from the Dakota Native Americans who came before. When Shoshona’s dad feels like the land is ready, he sends for their family. Shoshona is a little scared at first, but she’s excited about going to school and making friends. Because they are Jewish, Shoshona discovers her family will still be seen as different even in North Dakota. She desperately wants to fit in and isn’t sure how to be proud of her heritage and fit in. This was a great story about many things in history I did not know much about. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the advance copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
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Stories about the 1820s through 1924, where Jews made their way to America, are to be treasured. This historical event started a massive surge of immigrants at the start of the 20th century. Author Susan Lynn Meyer has weaved a beautiful story, with this at the background. The book, starting in 1905, tells a tale of a young girl, Shoshana, and her Jewish family, going through persecution, economic hardship, and discrimination as her family goes on the grueling journey to the “Golden Land” of America. Shoshana and her sister share a transitional, coming-of-age story with us readers, which capture our hearts, and take us all to a time and place in historical fiction we cannot forget. Praise to this heart-warming story, and to Meyer for writing this book. I have already included it in our Library Must Reads list. Five of five stars!

Thank you to Union Square Kids - A subsidiary of Sterling Publishing, Union Square Kids via NetGalley for this arc. I voluntarily read it and all opinions are my own.
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Having recently finished “A Sky Full of Song” by Susan Lynn Meyer, I am happy to have had the chance for the Advanced Reader’s Edition e-copy; thank you NetGalley and Union Square Kids!

This is a lovely and powerful story with so many messages for readers; no matter what their age may be. 
It is important to not be ashamed of who you are or where you are from. Learning to love a new home, even one as harsh as a “Nordakota” prairie, was eventually made easier by remembering the past and adjusting to the new. From raspberry jam tea and fiddles, to pickle brine, blizzards and a fierce little black and white kitten; this story of embracing culture and change is one worthy of adding to any collection.
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Theme  and character driven story traces a Jewish  Russian family's immigration from the pogroms and discrimination they suffered in their home town of Liubashevka. First Papa and son Anshel immigrate to North Dakota/”Nordakota” to start anew and earn money to bring Mama and their four daughters, babies Tsivia and Perle, and Libke, and Shoshana to Nordakota. Papa and Anshel have built a “small shaggy dugout into a shaggy hill”,  but Mama and the girls soon have it decorated with burlap or sheets to cover the dirt ceiling and stop dirt and spiders from falling and circus posters to cover the dirt walls. For the first time in 17 years, the mezuzah was reverently placed over the doorway. A samovar, Papa's fiddle, tea with jam, and when Chanukah arrives, a menorah, bring a bit of their homeland and culture into the dugout.  Racism and bullying  are undercurrents, but the girls attend school, make friends,  and work to be assimilated while maintaining their cultural roots.  Shoshana is especially interested in fitting in and not being “different”.  Emotional conflict  bubbles to the surface during the Christmas  season when the school house is decorated, and the annual Christmas musical program is planned.  Father compares the family's treatment by the Czarist Russians to the Dakota's  treatment by the US government and he is blunt: The Dakota looked different, weren't Christian,  lived a different way, so government wanted to get rid of them. They were moved to reservations with poor land, just like the Jews were moved  from all over the Russian Empire to the Pale. This  makes the Rabbi Hillel game a survival skill:  “What-is-hateful-to-you-do-not-do-to-your -fellow-man”.  I highly recommend this book. It has a lot of character and will provide many points of discussion.!
Thank you to Union Square Kids and Netgalley for the digital arc.
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“A Sky Full of Song” is written by Susan Lynn Meyer

It is due to be released on April 11, 2023. I am honored to have received an eARC from Net Galley and Union Square Kids.

This is a historical fiction middle grade novel set in North Dakota in the early 1900s. The story is told by an 11 year old girl named Shoshana. Her family fled the Ukraine and came to America as Jewish immigrants to settle and start a new life.

I really enjoyed this book and read it in one sitting- unable to put it down. I recommend this book starting in upper elementary.
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A Sky Full of Songs by Susan Lynn Meyer is a heart-touching tale of a family migrated to North Dakota, America. The plot of the story is mesmerising. The narrator of this story is Shoshana, a member of this family. Susan has very powerfully conveyed the feelings and sentiments of a girl and her family living in Liubashevka in Ukraine, then a part of the Russian Empire in the late 19th and early 20th C. The picturesque village life and the family’s home are beautiful.  

The story starts in 1905 with a scene of a violent attack. Shoshana, her mother and her sisters become victims of this attack which were then becoming frequent on Jewish people, their homes and their business. Her father and her brother, Anshel, have already left for North Dakota to work and arrange a settlement for their family. Shoshana and her family are about to leave this village to join them. The reader can feel a kind of mixed emotions running through the whole family. A sadness to leave their beautiful home and a curiosity to start a new life in a totally strange country.

The author has beautifully carved the emotions of Shoshana. Her love for her family, for her kitten Ganef, whom she is supposed to leave behind and for her beautiful village. The hardships the family faces during migration touch the reader’s heart. It makes the reader realise the value and respect of one’s home. Even during migration, it was heartbreaking to see how Jews were treated by some people. 

The start of a new life in North Dakota in a dugout feels like turning the page to the second half of this book. The past seems to be left behind by Susan, with only some flashbacks of their home in Liubashevka, sometimes crossing the family’s path.

The most admiring part of this story is how patiently and with a brave heart, the family adjusts to the new environment. And especially with people around. The scene at Mr. Huber’s general store again makes the reader feel the respect and value of one’s self and their family and home. The story continues with interesting emotions rolling in and out. Shoshana and her elder sister Libke's affection are heart-touching. The feeling of the reader gradually shifts from curiosity to a smooth flow when life for Shoshana and her family changes. 

They become friends with a good neighbour. Evie, and her family are a welcoming change in their life. The theme of the whole story is “never to forget your true identity, who you are, and from where you belong.” The affection for animals and having faith in their love to respond is very powerfully portrayed. 

The language in the book is simple and approachable to the reader. The fiddle and the song played by Shoshana’s father and later by Shoshana herself are of great significance and connect with the main theme of this story.

A Sky Full of Songs is an amazing book with a heartfelt narration. As one goes deeper into the story, one surely admires Susan’s powerful and imaginative skills to pen this story out of one of the pages of history. I recommend this book to a general audience. Young people will particularly enjoy reading this book. It has a strong message in it and is worth taking note of it. An amazing read.
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Oh, my, where to begin?
Setting: (Beginning)-Ukraine, 1905, then North Dakota Territory
A large Jewish family escapes the persecution in their country by immigrating to North Dakota. The eleven-year-old middle daughter finds the new life to be quite different than she expected, in positive and some negative ways.
This would be a wonderful teaching tool for middle-grade classrooms. It touches on the subjects of immigration and Ellis Island, anti-semitism, and the forced removal of Native Americans from their lands. 
I must echo what several other reviewers have said; if you’re a fan of the Little House books, this is a must-read! It also reminded me of the American Girl books about Kirsten, an immigrant child from Sweden.
Here’s an idea that popped into my head while reading that might be a good classroom activity: a Venn diagram comparing/contrasting Laura Ingalls Wilder and Shoshanna, for those who have read about both. (Every once in a while the former teacher in me just re-surfaces!)😀
Excellent historical fiction! The author’s other novels are winners, too!
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Sweet middle-grade story with a compelling cast of characters and uplifting message. I know many young ladies tgat eoukd really enjoy reading this.
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Why haven’t I read any of the author’s work before? I am quite disappointed with myself!

This is such a well written story about a young girl, Shoshana and her family struggling during the time of progrom which happened to attacked Jewish homes. As a result their family had to leave their village and had to follow strict rules that allowed them limited movement and access to opportunities, forcing boys and men to become army for the tsar.

I find the writing outstanding which expresses coming of age and trauma with sensitivity. My heart got broken but also my heart got healed then and there because of the amazing writing.

This story is heartbreaking but also quite comforting to read while reading about the family dynamics and the sibling relationship.

However, I would like to warn the young readers about some parts which depict assault towards a minor and animal cruelty.

The story ends on a wholesome note which I really appreciate when it comes to books for young readers.

Thank you,Union Square Kids, for the advance reading copy.
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A Sky Full of Song was a wonderfully engaging historical fiction novel about an immigrant Jewish family who settles in North Dakota. It immediately made me think of the Little House on the Prairie books based on the setting and the writing style. Jews settling in North Dakota was something I knew very little about. The extensive research that went into this novel added details that made Shoshana's world feel real. I appreciated the list of  'works consulted' at the end of the novel. 
In addition to an engaging narrative, Meyer explores issues of anti-Semitism, the immigrant experience, identity, and assimilation in ways that are thought provoking. Thank you to NetGalley and Union Square Kids for the ARC. I throughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.
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In “A Sky Full of Song”, Susan Lynn Meyer has wonderfully captured the beauty of the North Dakota prairie. I have lived in North Dakota all my life, and while the landscape in places has changed dramatically since 1905 when the book takes place, many areas of North Dakota retain that allure. Ms. Meyers' descriptive phrases gave Shoshanna's new homeland a wonderful radiance that I loved. 
Shoshanna and her family have to flee their homeland of Ukraine because of the Russian pogroms against Jews. Her father and older brother went to North Dakota a few years earlier to prepare a new home for the family and to raise money to bring the remaining five members to their new country. The story of their ship journey, Ellis Island, and the train ride to North Dakota are all similarly well-described. 
Papa has built the family a house in true North Dakota tradition - a dugout. While the top of the home is above ground, the living quarters are dug into the ground to provide protection from the elements. Dugouts were also practical because trees for lumber on the prairie were scarce. The dugout is quite different than what the female family members were expecting. They set to work making it as homelike as possible. With their efforts and the great love of the family, it becomes a home as much as their home in Ukraine, just different. 
Different is a keyword in this novel. There are very few Jews in the area, and none but Shoshanna and her sister at school. While Shoshanna picks up the new language more quickly than her older sister, she struggles with her identity and how to fit in with the other students. 
"A Sky Full of Song" will draw comparisons to Laura Ingalls Wilder's books, among others, the descriptive quality of Ms. Meyers' writing, in my opinion,  rises above that of Ms. Wilder. The description of the migration of the sandhill cranes alone, "a sky full of song", was an intoxicating read. This is a book that can be enjoyed by any age. 
Thank you to NetGalley and Union Square Kids for the ARC of this book.
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Shoshana and her family have had to flee Russia, in 1905, because the attacks on their Jewish village are just getting to be too much. Their father has been living on a homestead in North Dakota, and gets them tickets to join him.

Because Shoshana knows about being attacked for her religion, and knows about being displaced, she has an affinity for the few Indigenous people that she meets, though most are now living on reservations. What she can’t seem to get is how to be treated like a regular American. A common problem amongst immigrants, even to this day. Do you embrace you differences, or do you try to eat what the other kids eat, and wear what the other kids wear. It is a hard problem, and one book is not going to solve it.

What I love is how the story takes on a version of The Long Winter, by Laura Ingles Wilder, which also happened in the Dekota territory, and uses it to tell Shashana’s story. The Wilder book too place in 1880. This story is taking place in 1905, but blizzards can be just as deadly no matter when they are happening.

Like “Parie Lotus” by Linda Sue Park, which told of an Interatial Chinese-American girl in the 1800s, this book shows what it is like for a Jewish girl, when there are no other Jews around. 

Whenever I read a book that I can’t put down, and I stay up late to read, and find myself shedding hot tears as the poor protagonist is going through their problems, I know this is a book I have to let others know about. The writing is so good. The people are so human. And one thing that Shoshana has to take to heart is that people are not black and white, they are not either good or bad. There is a little bit of both in everyone, whether you like it or not.

A five star review.  If only for the descriptions of the cranes migrating overhead, and their calls filling the sky with song.

<em>Thanks to Netgalley for making this book available for an honest review.</em>
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I wasnt sure in the beginning where this was headed. But we see a family struggling who gets a chance at a better life. It is a story of a young Jewish immigrant from the pogram-era of Russia / Ukraine. We get to see her go through trials and tribulations in adjusting to her new life in North Dakota.  This was a good read. 

Thanks NetGalley for this ARC!
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I was expecting a children's book, but was pleasantly surprised with an engaging and historically-informative young adult read instead!  This is the story of a young Jewish immigrant from the pogram-era of Russia / Ukraine, including her inner thoughts, trials, and adjustment to a new life in North Dakota.  It's full of adventure, but doesn't focus as much on the cultural / religious aspect as I would have hoped.  However, it might be just the right about of inclusion for other families.  Overall, a fantastic read!  We will be using it with our Jewish studies year for history.
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