Travel back in time…
with historical fiction


Welcome to America, Champ!

By Catherine Stier
Illustrated by Doris Ettlinger

WELCOME TO AMERICA, CHAMP, a stirring picture book set in WWII England, offers a glimpse of the WWII War Brides voyages on the famous ship, the Queen Mary.

Young Thomas celebrates as his widowed mother marries Jack, a kind American serviceman stationed in WWII England. But Thomas realizes someday he and Mum will move faraway to Jack’s home in America.

Once the war ends, Thomas is about to embark on a history-making event — the “Bride and Baby” voyages of 1946. Great ships are readied to transport tens of thousands of “soldier brides,” ladies from across Europe who, like his mother, married American servicemen. They will cross the Atlantic, crowded in small cabins with their babies and children, to awaiting husbands in the United States.

Thomas is excited to sail aboard the famous RMS Queen Mary. But is he brave enough to leave England — forever?

In this hope-filled WWII and immigration story, Stier and Ettlinger present an extraordinary historical event as experienced by one spirited boy from England.

Awards and Honors

  • Named a “Best Children’s Books of the Year” by the Bank Street College of Education


“Young readers will quickly identify with Thomas’s mingled fears and excitement as they realize that moving to a new country offers challenges as well as hope for the future.”—International Literacy Association

“Heartfelt watercolor illustrations bring to life the anxiety and tentative joys of this unique historical situation.”—Booklist

“Catherine Stier provides readers with another look at immigration and its impact on families, while the stunning illustrations done by Doris Ettlinger provide a beautiful backdrop to this narrative.”—The Children’s Bookshelf

For more journal reviews, please visit the Sleeping Bear Press website at

The Story of This Book

Imagine a huge ship crowded to the brim with young women, babies and toddlers, all heading to a brand new life in a faraway country! 

I was fascinated to learn about the amazing journeys made by thousands of WWII war brides (and their children) from more than 50 countries.  These women from Europe, Australia and other regions left their homelands just after WWII to reunite with the American servicemen they had married during that terrible conflict.  Sometimes, these young couples had already started families.

In many cases, the young brides at first had to stay in their home countries while their husbands returned to the U.S.  But finally, great ships were readied to bring these women and children across the sea on special voyages nicknamed “GI Bride Ships” or “Operation Diaper Run.”

WELCOME TO AMERICA, CHAMP! takes place, in part during one of these voyages on the majestic ship, the Queen Mary.  I visited the Queen Mary as I prepared to write this book. The Queen Mary no longer sails the seas, but has been converted into a hotel and attraction in Long Beach California.

What an exciting time it was for me, then, to return to the Queen Mary for a book signing, and later as a guest of the WWII War Brides Association Reunion, held on the very ship that had first brought some of the women to the U.S. nearly 70 years ago.

Book Signing at the Queen Mary

Book Signing at the Queen Mary