Hannah's Way

  • Interest Level: Kindergarten - Grade 3
  • Reading Level: Grade 2

After Papa loses his job during the Depression, Hannah’s family moves to rural Minnesota, where she is the only Jewish child in her class. When her teacher tries to arrange carpools for a Saturday class picnic, Hannah is upset. Her Jewish family is observant, and she knows she cannot ride on the Sabbath. What will she do? A lovely story of friendship and community.

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Interest Level Kindergarten - Grade 3
Reading Level Grade 2
Genre Picture Books
Copyright 2012
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Kar-Ben Publishing ®
Language English
Number of Pages 32
Publication Date 2012-01-01
Text Type Fiction
BISACS JUV033020, JUV017090
Dewey [E]
Graphics Full-color illustrations
Dimensions 9.625 x 9.75
ATOS Reading Level 2.4
Accelerated Reader® Quiz 149753
Accelerated Reader® Points 0.5
Features Awards, Original artwork, Reviewed, Teaching Guides, and eSource

Author: Linda Glaser

Illustrator: Adam Gustavson

Adam Gustavson majored in illustration at Rowan University and received his Master's at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. He has taught art classes at Passaic County Community College and Seton Hall University. He lives in West Orange, New Jersey, with his wife and two sons.

Lerner eSource™ offers free digital teaching and learning resources, including Common Core State Standards (CCSS) teaching guides. These guides, created by classroom teachers, offer short lessons and writing exercises that give students specific instruction and practice using Common Core skills and strategies. Lerner eSource also provides additional resources including online activities, downloadable/printable graphic organizers, and additional educational materials that would also support Common Core instruction. Download, share, pin, print, and save as many of these free resources as you like!

Hannah's Way

After Papa loses his job during the Depression, Hannah’s family moves to rural Minnesota, where she is the only Jewish child in her class. When her teacher tries to arrange carpools for a Saturday class picnic, Hannah is upset. Her Jewish family is observant, and she knows she cannot… View available downloads →


  • California Book Award, Winner, 2013
  • Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC) Choices, Winner, 2013
  • Midwest Book Award, Winner, 2013
  • Sydney Taylor Book Award, Winner, 2013


Jewish Journal

“Hannah has just relocated from Minneapolis to rural Minnesota because her father lost his job during the Depression. She is new at school and trying to fit in. The teacher announces that the fall picnic is Saturday, and she is trying to make carpool arrangements. Suddenly, Hannah begins to feel overwhelmed. Home in Minneapolis, Hannah’s old friends would have understood, but here she is scared that she will be an outcast because she is the only Jewish person in the entire school. Her family is observant and does not drive on Shabbat. She begs her family to make an exception and allow her to go with schoolmates in the car, but her parents’ answer is a firm no! After much contemplation, it suddenly dawns on Hannah that she can go if she walks to the park. She explains her predicament to the teacher, who asks if anyone in the class is willing to walk with Hannah. She stares in disbelief as everyone’s hand in the class goes up. This is a touching and true tale of friendship and community. This moving story is based on the author’s visit in 1996 to an exhibit at the Minnesota History Center entitled ‘Unpacking on the Prairie: Jewish Women in the Upper Midwest.’” —The Jewish Journal

Spirituality & Practice

" It is the Depression and Hannah’s father has lost his job. They are forced to move from Minneapolis to northern Minnesota where she is the only Jew in her class at school. Her parents are rigorous believers in following the rules and regulations governing the Sabbath. Hannah gets upset when she learns that the fall picnic falls on Saturday and that the students are making plans to be driven to the park for the festivities.

Hannah tries to convince her parents to make an exception and allow her to ride in a car on the Sabbath but they insist that she honor the day of rest and the ways of her people. After much worrying, she comes up with a solution and is gratified to discover the hospitality and empathy of her classmates once her teacher explains her dilemma.

Linda Glaser has written this touching book designed for children 5 through 9 years of age. The old fashioned illustrations of Adam Gustavson vividly convey the Depression era period. Children need more stories like this one to learn respect for religious diversity and appreciation of the rituals of others." —Spirituality & Practice

Jewish Book World

“After Hannah’s father loses his job during the Depression, the family moves to a rural town in northern Minnesota where he will work in his brother’s general store. Hannah is not only the new girl in her class; she’s also the only Jewish child in the whole school. When the teacher announces the date of the class picnic and offers to arrange carpools, Hannah desperately wants to go. But the picnic is on a Saturday and her family is Orthodox. ‘Why can’t I ride in a car? It’s not driving. It’s just sitting’ she begs her parents. Hannah finally tells her teacher she can’t ride on a Saturday, but says she can walk with someone. To Hannah’s surprise, when the teacher asks who would like to walk with her, every single hand in the class is raised. Adam Gustavson’s paintings accurately reflect the period, and an author’s note explains that the story was inspired by a true episode. Recommended for ages 5-9.” —Jewish Book World

Book Peep Wonders

“The inside cover of this book reads ‘After Papa loses his job during the Depression, Hannah’s family moves to rural Minnesota, where she is the only Jewish child in her class. When her teacher tries to arrange carpools for a Saturday class picnic, Hannah is upset. Her Jewish family is observant, and she cannot ride on the Sabbath….’

One of the things I most love about picture books these days is how authors and publishers are smacking home runs in the subject departments. I mean seriously, what a superb tension to write about, in a community that most of us can identify with, and with questions that all of us, young and old can connect with. Children (and we adults at times) are always trying to find bridges between tensions and joys in our lives.

I love the illustrations in this book. The illustrator, Adam Gustavson, is new to me, but I loved how he portrayed the aloneness in the main character’s eyes. I really enjoyed the teacher in this book, but hey, I am a teacher and am immensely committed to the craft of teaching so I am an easy sell. I loved, loved, loved the ending. When I read this book at the library, I found myself shaking my head, surprised again at the treasures around me. Books: filled with gifts for all of us.” —Book Peep Wonders Blog

School Library Journal

“Hannah is having difficulty adjusting to her new life on the Iron Range in Depression-era Minnesota. She has yet to make friends when her teacher announces that the class will be going on a picnic on Saturday and the children should arrange car pools. As an observant Jew, Hannah is unable to ride in a car on the Sabbath. Despite her protests, her parents hold their ground: ‘Just because there are no other Jews in the community doesn’t mean we forget the ways of our people,’ her father firmly explains. The only way Hannah can go is if she walks the two miles to the park, and her parents insist that she find someone to accompany her. When she finally musters up the courage to explain her predicament to her teacher, she is pleasantly surprised by the outpouring of support, understanding, and friendship from her classmates. Oil paintings richly convey both the historical period and the rural, Upper Midwest setting of the story. Based on a true account from the Minnesota History Center, this simple story with a lovely message would pair nicely with Kathryn Lasky’s Marven of the Great North Woods (Harcourt, 1997) and Barbara Cohen’s Make a Wish, Molly (Doubleday, 1994).”—School Library Journal


“After Papa loses his job during the Great Depression, Hannah and her family move from Minneapolis to rural Minnesota, and suddenly she is the only Jewish student in her school. Hannah hopes that a weekend class picnic could be her opportunity to make friends, but her hopes are dashed when Papa reminds her later, ‘You know that Saturday is our day of rest. We don’t work or drive on the Sabbath.’ In a touching conclusion, Hannah’s classmates offer to walk the two miles with Hannah to the picnic spot. Glaser’s elegant text works well with Gustavson’s painterly illustrations, which play with shadow and light to effectively capture emotion. An author’s note reveals that a true story inspired this picture book that could open up discussion on a variety of topics, ranging from the Great Depression to Jewish traditions, and is a heartwarming reminder that the smallest actions often have the largest impact.” —Booklist

Feathered Quill

“Hannah smiled as she folded her hands in front of her on her desk when Miss Hartley declared, ‘This Saturday is our fall picnic.’ Her family had just moved from Minneapolis to northern Minnesota and it would be the perfect time to make a few new friends. Hannah’s heart sank when it was announced that the picnic was going to be held at Grove Park, a full two miles away. It was on a Saturday and she’d need a ride. That was a big problem for Hannah because Saturday was the Sabbath. It made her long for her old home because her friends would understand.

That night she approached Mama and Papa and told them about the picnic. Mama was knitting, but frowned over her glasses and stopped long enough to tell her it was unacceptable. Hannah began to plead, but Papa didn’t waver as he said, ‘You know that Saturday is our day of rest. We don’t work or drive on the Sabbath.’ The next night was a repeat of the first, but Jews couldn’t ‘forget the ways of [their] people.’ The other children had rides and even Miss Hartley claimed she would help her get one, but there was that little problem. Would she ever have any friends if she told them why she couldn’t ride in the car? Was there any way she could get to that picnic?

This tale, set in the Midwest in the 1930s, was inspired by a real girl who encountered a problem similar to Hannah’s. European Jewish immigrants to the West often found they were the only Jews in their newfound communities. The story is sad, but heartwarming as Hannah finds a solution to her problem. The artwork has a beautiful, vintage aura to it and is quite captivating. In the back of the book there is a brief author’s note about her inspiration for the tale, the era in which the story takes place, and a period photograph.

Quill says: This is a touching story of how Hannah, an Orthodox Jew, found a way to make friends and honor her religion.” —The Feathered Quill

AJL Newsletter

“Hannah’s Way is an American Jewish story that has not been told in picture books before. The time is the 1920s and the place is Northeastern Minnesota, a rural iron mining area called the Iron Range. After her father loses his job in Minneapolis, Hannah’s family moves to a small town so that he can join Uncle Max, working at his general store. It was common for Jews to run dry goods stores in small town America. Hannah finds herself the only Jewish girl in her class at her new school, and she feels alone and friendless. When her teacher announces that the fall picnic will be on Saturday, and asks who needs a ride, Hannah is crestfallen. She had wanted to go to the picnic, but she knows that her family does not work or drive on the Sabbath. At home, she asks her parents’ permission, and they confirm that she may not ride to the picnic. How Hannah resolves this makes an encouraging story.

Illustrator Adam Gustavson’s realistic and convincing double page paintings suggest the dark and difficult aspect of life for Hannah’s family in America’s hinterlands. Hannah’s parents appear strict and forbidding. Browns and grays are the dominant shades inside Hannah’s home, and there is a somewhat threatening atmosphere. These illustrations open questions about how difficult life may have been for isolated Jewish families in these towns. How did they connect to the communities they joined? How did they maintain Jewish laws and customs? Not, this story tells us, by being permissive parents. The author’s note at the back of the book credits the inspiration for this story to a 1996 exhibit at the Minnesota History Center called ‘Unpacking on the Prairie: Jewish Women in the Upper Midwest.’ This reviewer found the website for this exhibit to be a rich source of fascinating photographs: http://www. jhsum.org/jewishwomenexhibit . The book, Hannah’s Way, and this website would be excellent resources for children to learn about this aspect of the American Jewish experience. Kar-Ben Publishing, in its present location in Minneapolis, has issued an authentic Minnesotan Jewish story, in a high quality picture book. Hannah’s Way is enthusiastically recommended for all Jewish and public library children’s collections, and especially for all elementary school libraries.” —Association of Jewish Libraries

Kirkus Reviews

“Sometimes the tiniest actions are the most heroic. In this book—based on a true story—the heroes are children.

Illustrator Gustavson is very good at painting eyes. Even when the characters have their eyelids closed, it’s easy to read their expressions. Mostly they look nervous. Hannah is nervous because she might have to miss her class picnic. Her family won’t drive on the Jewish Sabbath; she’s the only Orthodox girl in a school in rural Minnesota. In every picture, Hannah looks nervous in a slightly different way: shy when she’s a new student, timid and regretful when she tells her father about the picnic. ‘Just because there are no other Jews…’ he says, ‘doesn’t mean we forget the ways of our people.’ Hannah thinks: ‘I don’t want to follow the ways of my people… I just want to go on my class picnic.’ On the second-to-last page, she has to speak up in front of the entire class. Her eyes are pointed at her desk. ‘I—I can go if someone will walk with me,’ she whispers. And in one brief, moving sentence, all the students raise their hands to volunteer. In this picture, their eyes are barely visible—they’re tiny scribbles of paint—but they seem to be filled with joy.

The moment is a little miracle—nearly impossible to believe, but entirely convincing and true.”—Kirkus Reviews

Foreword Reviews

“After her family moves to Minnesota so her father can look for work during the Great Depression, Hannah is the only Jewish child in her class. She’s lonely. But the opportunity to go on a picnic and meet new friends brings on anxiety for the young girl, whose obervant family forbids riding in vehicles during the Sabbath. How can she communicate her concerns to her teacher and classmates? And what will their reaction be? A tender coming-of-age story, beautifully rendered.” —ForeWord Magazine

Publishers Weekly

“Hannah is eager to fit into her new school. It’s the Depression, and her family has relocated from Minneapolis to rural Minnesota. She is the only Jewish girl in her class, and her family is the only Jewish family in the community. Glaser (Emma’s Poem) delves into the girl’s dilemma: there’s a class picnic on Saturday, the perfect opportunity to build friendships, and the teacher is arranging carpools for it, but Hannah’s not allowed to ride in a car on the Sabbath. She frets that no one will understand her problem. ‘If only she weren’t so far away from all her friends,’ Hannah thinks. In Minneapolis, they would have understood the situation. She dreads the moment when she has to speak up. However, when she finally tells her teacher, a surprising solution presents itself. This is a sweet story, based on fact, of a community accepting a stranger with a different religion. Illustrations by Gustavson (Good Luck, Mrs. K.) in shadowy greens, browns, and purples lend a period feel to the story, and his painterly use of texture and light deftly depicts his character’s emotions.” —Publishers Weekly