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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Amanda wants to learn more about her Oma, her grandmother. She knows Oma came from Germany and she’s learning some words in German, like numbers. When she snuggles up to Oma for a story, she asks her about Germany and how she came to live in the United States. It’s “a wunderbare Geschischte!” If you don’t already know, I’m sure you can guess what that means: it’s a wonderful story. Oma tells Amanda about her life in Berlin, how she must ride her bicycle to work even in heavy rain and snow, and how they depend on the local church for used clothes, especially warm coats. And that’s where the romance that leads to America begins.
Amanda Rose’s picture book, It's A Wonderful Story: Eine Wunderbare Geschichte, is a heartwarming tale of family, heritage, and immigration. I love the title: a play on the classic movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” As Oma shares her story with Amanda, a plot evolves, one that speaks volumes about the power of family, the ties that bind, and the brave souls who sought another life an ocean away from their own family and friends. Life is a story, and this one is certainly spell-binding, tenderly and compassionately told. The language is simple for young readers to follow and there’s lots of dialogue as this is a grandmother sharing her story in the age-old traditional storytelling manner.
The illustrations are sweet and charming and add a distinctive flavor to the story, one that shines forth with love and caring. At the end of the book, there is a page that teaches young readers how to write real letters, like the ones Oma wrote to her pen pal in America. (Sadly, the classic art of letter-writing is on the decline.) This is a real treasure of a book and, as the author writes at the end, “the more we learn from each other, the more we can appreciate and celebrate our differences.”