The year is 1909 and Joseph has just immigrated to the United States from Russia. He thinks that life in New York City will be wonderful, but he has not bargained for the challenges of learning English and of resisting the pressures to skip school, steal and fight to earn a place among the boys in his neighborhood. Just Call Me Joe presents a full picture of life in New York City for the working poor. Anna, Joe's older sister, struggles to cope with the terrible factory conditions of the time. Aunt Sophie must take in boarders to make ends meet. And Joseph must both accept change and remain true to himself in a new city with new challenges.
Born in Germany, Frieda Wishinsky was raised and educated in New York City. Her thorough knowledge of the city shows in Just Call Me Joe. She knows what it feels like to be an immigrant kid and she loves how New York has taken in people from so many places, how they've become part of a vibrant ever-changing landscape.