Minsha’s Night on Ellis Island (At the Heels of History)

Written by Dorothy Hearst
Review by Elizabeth Caulfield Felt

When Leila’s family decides to immigrate to America from Syria, her family must leave her beloved terrier, Minsha, behind—but Minsha has other ideas. She jumps on the next ship heading to America and hides with the help of Yusef and his family. When the dog and family arrive in New York, they get interviewed and examined at Ellis Island. Yusef has a cough and is separated from his mother and siblings. Although Minsha is in a hurry to find Leila, she decides to help Yusef and his family. Minsha has a series of exciting adventures with a helpful rat and some frightening cats. Will Yusef be reunited with his family? Will Minsha find Leila?

Using animal characters to teach young children history is unusual and creative. Minsha the terrier is a sympathetic narrator, and information about 1920s ocean travel, Ellis Island, and Little Syria in New York City are well woven into this engaging story. The infrequent, black and white illustrations enhance the light tone of the story. Ages 6-9.