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The Welcome Chair

Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney

Based in part on a 100-year-old family journal, Rosemary Wells brings to life a story that the diary’s fragile pages tell. It’s the story of a wooden rocking chair handmade in about 1825 by her great-great grandfather, an immigrant Jewish boy who made his way to America from Germany in the early 1800s.

In 1807, Sam Siebert is born in southern Germany. Sam’s favorite pastime is carpentry, much to his father’s displeasure. His mother says he has a gift from God in his hands. After moving to America, he builds a wooden chair with the word WILLKOMMEN on the back. The chair’s back panel was later marked with welcomes by four generations of the family in four different languages.

After the family lost track of the old chair, the author created a new life for it among new owners from other corners of the world. All the families who loved the chair came to America, escaping religious conformity, natural disasters, tyrannies, war, and superstition. In its lifetime, the rocking chair, with its earliest word WILLKOMMEN, stood for openness, hospitality, and acceptance to all who owned it or rocked safely in its embrace.

Rosemary Wells is the author of more than one hundred and twenty books for children in her forty-five-year career, including more than forty about the beloved bunnies, Max and Ruby, who star in their own television show on Nick Jr. She lives in New England. Visit her online at RosemaryWells.com.

Jerry Pinkney has illustrated 100 children’s books, and his work has earned the 2010 Caldecott Medal, five Caldecott Honor Medals, five Coretta Scott King Awards, five Coretta Scott King Honors, five New York Times Best Illustrated Book awards, and, in 2006, the Original Art Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Illustrators. Jerry Pinkney’s many acclaimed titles include John Henry, Minty, Sam and the Tigers, The Ugly Duckling, and Mirandy and Brother Wind. He lives in Croton-on-Hudson, New York. Visit him at JerryPinkneyStudio.com.

More books from this author: Rosemary Wells

More books from this illustrator: Jerry Pinkney