Relocating to another country can wreck havoc on a child’s sense of security. This is especially true when the journey is filled with uncertainty and dangerous events. Yuvi’s Candy Tree (Lerner Publishing Group, 2011) provides a fictionalized account of a young Ethiopian girl’s journey to Israel with a short stopover at a refugee camp and a flight to Israel. Lesley Simpson based this fictional story on the facts that she learned from Yuvi Tashome, an Ethiopian woman who was airlifted to Israel during Operation Moses in the 1980s.
After centuries of worldwide anti-Semitic policies that limited Jewish immigration, the newly formed Israeli government created a controversial immigration policy. The Israeli Declaration of Independence stated that immigration to Israel would be open to all Jews. In 1950, the Law of Return granted automatic citizenship to Jews who wanted to relocate to Israel. In the 1970s, the Chief Rabbinate in Israel declared that Ethiopian Jews had the right to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return. A few years later, the Israeli Defense Forces, the CIA, the Sudanese security forces, and local mercenaries worked together in a covert operation (Operation Moses) to rescue thousands of starving Ethiopian Jews. Lesley uses this point in history as the setting for this historical fiction picture book. Janice Lee Porter supplements the text with sweeping earth tone images that add to the mystique of a desert trek.
From the simple perspective of a five year old girl, the reader observes the perils that Yuvi faced as she rode on a donkey through the desert with her relatives. Robbers were a constant source of fear. By the time Yuvi reached the airplane that would take her to Israel, she was severely dehydrated and in need of medical attention.Despite the hardship of her journey, she continued to voice her hopes and dreams for a better life along with her natural wish for candy. These optimistic sentiments can be shared by anyone who has relocated to improve their lot in life.
While I was reading this book, I immediately connected with two books that I recently reviewed- When Jessie Came Across the Sea and My Shoes and I. All three books focus on a young person’s heroic journey.
- Canadian Jewish Book Award for Youth Literature
- Ethiopian culture and history
- Drought and famine
- Ethiopian Jews (Falashas and Beta Israel)
- Migration due to famine
- Immigration from one country to another
- Reasons for immigration or relocating
- Hopes and fears
- Law of Return
- Israeli history and culture
- Operation Moses
- Orange trees
- Being separated from one’s parents
- Adapting to a new culture