37 Days at Sea

Aboard the M.S. St. Louis, 1939

  • Interest Level: Grade 3 - Grade 7
  • Reading Level: Grade 4

In May 1939, nearly one thousand German-Jewish passengers boarded the M.S. St. Louis luxury liner bound for Cuba. They hoped to escape the dangers of Nazi Germany and find safety in Cuba. In this novel in verse, twelve-year-old Ruthie Arons is one of the refugees, traveling with her parents. Ruthie misses her grandmother, who had to stay behind in Breslau, and worries when her father keeps asking for his stomach pills. But when the ship is not allowed to dock in Havana as planned—and when she and her friend Wolfie discover a Nazi on board—Ruthie must take action. In the face of hopelessness, she and her fellow passengers refuse to give up on the chance for a new life.

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Interest Level Grade 3 - Grade 7
Reading Level Grade 4
Genre Social Studies
Category Diverse Books: Immigration & Refugees, Diversity
Copyright 2021
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Kar-Ben Publishing ®
Language English
Number of Pages 168
Publication Date 2021-05-01
Text Type Fiction—Historical
BISACS JUV057000, JUV033020, JUV039250
Dewey 940.53/1835
Dimensions 5.25 x 7.5
Lexile 700
Features Author/Illustrator biography, Author/Illustrator note, Awards, Bibliography/further reading, Reviewed, and Timeline

Author: Barbara Krasner

Barbara Krasner publishes the popular blog, The Whole Megillah: The Writer's Resource for Jewish-Themed Story. She is the author of many articles, short stories, poems, and books. She lives in New Jersey and teaches in the English and History departments of New Jersey colleges and universities.


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  • Children's Book Committee at Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year, Winner, 2022


Jewish Book Council

37 Days at Sea: Aboard the M.S. St. Louis, 1939 is high­ly rec­om­mend­ed and includes an author’s note with his­tor­i­cal back­ground and a use­ful time­line of events." — Emily Schneider, Jewish Book Council

AJL Newsletter

“The rhythmic flow draws the reader inside the narrative. You will want to read this book in one sitting, never letting go until the very last words. In addition, the layout and design of 37 Days at Sea add depth to the emotional events.” — Anne Dublin, retired teacher-librarian, Holy Blossom Temple, Author of Jacob and the Mandolin Adventure

Sydney Taylor Shmooze

37 Days at Sea: Aboard the M.S. St. Louis, 1939 breathes new life into Holocaust literature for children with its usage of verse writing and a strong middle grade voice, and I believe would strongly fit the criteria for the Sydney Taylor Book Award as a Notable book.” — Rachel Simon, Youth Library Assistant, Newton, MA, Sydney Taylor Shmooze