The Books

When I First Came to This Land

by Harriet Ziefert
Illustrated by Simms Tabak

One Potato Review

A rowdy little fable of assimilation. “When I first came to this land, I was not a wealthy man,” says the guy off the boat, who was allegedly inspired by Zieffert’s grandparents from Russia. He’s not an experienced man either – at least in the way of farming – but he’s optimistic, and has an irresistible flair for names, calling his farm Muscle-in-my-arm, and his plow Don’t-know-how, this while tumbling head over heels. Such pratfalls provide the welcome relief in a genre too often overwhelmed by earnestness, and a happy, cluttered ending (complete with a shack called Break-my-back, and a wife called Spice-of-my-life) feels blessedly earned.