"Meticulously researched and beautifully written, To the Copper Country—based on author Barbara Carney-Coston’s own family history—tells an uncommon immigrant story.
In 1886 a plea for help from Papa—nearly blinded by a painful eye disease—sends eleven-year-old Mihaelia Levak, her mother—a gifted healer—and two younger brothers on an unexpected journey from their family farm in Croatia to northern Michigan where Papa has been working for two years in a copper mine to send much-needed money back home. The Levaks intend to return to Croatia, but as they struggle to subsist in America that hope fades. So does hope of curing Papa’s persistent condition.
Whenever Mihaela can slip away from work in the boarding house where they live, she explores unfamiliar forests and fields to find replacements for the medicinal herbs lost while in her care during their travels. A near tragedy coupled with discoveries at the wood’s edge lead to Papa’s cure and Mihaelia’s realization that life in America holds unforeseen promise. Family recipes, Croatian translation and pronunciation guides, an annotated bibliography, and recommended reading list complement this compelling historical novel that will have readers wondering what happens next? even after they’ve turned the last page."
--Ellen R. Braaf, columnist and feature writer for ASK Magazine for Kids
“The author has retained the distinct voice of the young protagonist, Mihaela, with nuanced, believable descriptions of her changing emotional state, as well as vivid natural descriptions throughout.”
--Laurie Lanzen Harris, publisher of Favorable Impressions and author of The Detroit Symphony Orchestra: Grace Grit, and Glory (Wayne State University Press, 2016)
“This is an engaging story with nicely drawn characters, relevant historical information, and wonderful descriptions of Mihaela’s village in Croatia and her new home in Calumet.”
--Laura E. Scott, head of children's services, Farmington Community Library–Main Library
"...extra materials—including a map, a glossary, historical images, and Carney-Coston’s own family recipes—add richness to this short novel, making it a good resource for classroom units on immigration."
"In the spirit of Laura Ingalls Wilder, this novel follows Mihaela and her family as they adapt to life in Michigan. Set in the early 19th century, the book details the journey from Croatia to the United States and the life of miners...
--School Library Journal
“To the Copper Country – Mihaela’s Journey” by University of Michigan graduate Barbara Carney-Coston (Wayne State University Press, $14.99) is designed for readers in the 8-12 year old range. That doesn’t mean that older readers won’t find it fascinating too, as the author deftly explores the challenges faced by 11-year-old Mihaela Levak and her family who immigrate from a rural farm in Croatia."...Based on her real family history, the author smoothly relates many eye-opening experiences, told in a comfortable, enjoyable style.
This is easily a top candidate for selection as one of the Michigan Notable Books of the Year; it includes pronunciation/translation guides as well as numerous photographs and recipes. There’s also a recommended reading list and an annotated bibliography."