There are lots of colorful characters in WIDE WORLD, but only one villain—a shadowy bounty hunter like those who pursued slaves before the Civil War. For the 19th century Russian writer, Vladimir Korolenko, America meant equality, opportunity, and the rule of law. Korolenko visited the Great Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1883. The recently completed Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn Bridge loom large over the life of his hero Matvei Lozinsky.Matvei’s an immigrant from a peaceful village in rural Ukraine to Gilded Age America, and is plunged into the insistent clatter of New York—steamship whistles, the clanking of trains, trolleys, and the famous Elevated. His exciting adventures include an encounter with an iceberg crossing the Atlantic, and with some wary wolves in Central Park.Luckily, he has help—sort of—from his wily sidekick, Puff, and falls in love with beautiful Anna. He survives, but just barely, and comes to understand America. We were all immigrants once, and his story is our story too. By the way, Matvei—that’s Russian for Matthew—is pronounced MAT-VAY.