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Dear America Wiki
Not to be confused with "Dreams in the Golden Country" (film) or the play.

"I cannot believe that back in Russia everyone called America the Goldeneh Medina—the Golden Country. There is nothing golden. It is only darkness."
Zipporah Feldman[2]

Dreams in the Golden Country: The Diary of Zipporah Feldman, a Jewish Immigrant Girl is a historical fiction book written by Kathryn Lasky. It is the ninth book in the Dear America series by Scholastic. The book was published in March 1998 and was followed by Standing in the Light. It was adapted into a television film in 1999 and a stage play with a national tour in 2002.

Zipporah Feldman's Russian Jewish family immigrates to New York City in the early 1900s.


"For Nat and Lochi Glazer"

Book description[]

"March 11, 1904
I forgot to tell you that yesterday Boris said to me, "Well, Zippy, maybe some play that is coming up will need children and you can audition." I said, "From your mouth to God's ears, Boris!" Now I can think of nothing else. I told Miriam last night in bed my secret dreams of wanting to become an actress. She squeezed my hand. It was a squeeze that seemed to sat we both have secret dreams, mine the theater and hers love. Then she said, "What is it about this country that makes one dream such big dreams?" I yawned sleepily and said yes, I knew what she meant, and look at Tovah with her union dreams. There is something in the air here in America that does this to people.


In September 1903, Zipporah Feldman with her mother, Sarah, and older sisters, Tovah and Miriam, reach Ellis Island. They reunite with their father, Yekl, who left their home in Russia two years prior. The family settles in a small tenement apartment in the Lower East Side. Miriam and Tovah both obtain jobs, while Zipporah attends public school. Due her lack of proficiency in English, she is placed in the first grade. Disappointed at first, Zipporah begins to enjoy school, when a girl her age, Bluma "Blu" Wolf, joins her class.

Zipporah's parents begin arguing often, mostly about their religion. Zipporah suggests a compromise to her parents, which they both agree to. Yekl attends shul more often and rents a sewing machine for Sarah to keep busy. Zipporah's friend Yitzy Silver finds her a client and Sarah begins sewing clothes for uptown ladies. The following December, Zipporah signs her father up for the Russian Symphony Society. He is readily accepted and begins practicing his violin for a January performance.

A few days before her father's concert, he brings her to see a play titled, Shulamith. Zipporah begins to aspire in become an actress in Yiddish theater. She later meets a friend of Tovah's, Mamie, who takes her to see play rehearsals. Meanwhile, Miriam grows close to an Irish fireman, Sean O'Malley, which culminates in them eloping in July. Sarah sits shiva for her, pretending that she is dead. Around the same time, Zipporah learns that Sarah is pregnant.

Before school starts, Zipporah waits outside Miriam's apartment to catch a glimpse of her for several days. In the fall, Zipporah begins her work as a prop girl. Mamie dies in a horrible shirtwaist factory fire, which causes Zipporah to stop writing for two months. Sarah gives birth to her baby, Yossel, who dies a few days later. In March 1905, Zipporah acts in a play, Shulamith, as a child eaten by a lion. Miriam attends the play with Sean and visits the Feldmans apartment to make up with her mother.


Historical Note[]


Main article: List of Dreams in the Golden Country characters
  • Zipporah "Zippy" Feldman, a Russian Jewish immigrant, who dreams of becoming an actress. She initially struggles in America, but finds happiness in friends, family, and hope for the future.
  • Tovah and Miriam Feldman are Zipporah's elder sisters. Tovah immerses herself in unions and women's rights, while Miriam searches for individual success.



The film on VHS

Dreams in the Golden Country was adapted into a short television film in 1999. The film was produced by Scholastic Entertainment and aired on HBO. It was released on video tape the same year. Natalie Vansier starred in the film as Zipporah. In collaboration with the Kennedy Center, Scholastic Entertainment produced a stage play based on Dreams in the Golden Country. It was first performed at the Kennedy Center and subsequently went on a national tour.


Main article: Kathryn Lasky

Kathryn Lasky is an American children's author. She is known for writing The Night Journey, Wolves of the Beyond, and the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series. Lasky is the author of four books in Dear America, five in The Royal Diaries, one in My Name Is America, and three in My America. Like Zipporah's family, Lasky's grandparents immigrated from Russia. Instead of Ellis Island, they went through Canada and settled in Minnesota. As a child, Lasky enjoyed asking her parents, aunts and uncles about her grandparents' journey.



See also[]

Arts & Crafts

Dear America

A Journey to the New World | The Winter of Red Snow | When Will This Cruel War Be Over? | A Picture of Freedom
Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie | So Far from Home | I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly
West to a Land of Plenty | Dreams in the Golden Country | Standing in the Light | Voyage on the Great Titanic
A Line in the Sand | My Heart Is on the Ground | The Great Railroad Race | The Girl Who Chased Away Sorrow
A Light in the Storm | Color Me Dark | A Coal Miner's Bride | My Secret War | One Eye Laughing, the Other Weeping
Valley of the Moon | Seeds of Hope | Early Sunday Morning | My Face to the Wind | Christmas After All
A Time for Courage | Where Have All the Flowers Gone? | Mirror, Mirror on the Wall | Survival in the Storm
When Christmas Comes Again | Land of the Buffalo Bones | Love Thy Neighbor | All the Stars in the Sky
Look to the Hills | I Walk in Dread | Hear My Sorrow


The Fences Between Us | Like the Willow Tree | Cannons at Dawn | With the Might of Angels | Behind the Masks
Down the Rabbit Hole | A City Tossed and Broken

External links[]