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Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 08/01/2014 K-Gr 3—Once again, Polacco has drawn on a rich family history to present this story of courage, perseverance, and love. Young Fiona Hughes and her younger sister, Ailish, loved to hear their father's "grand stories," but their favorite was the one of how their parents met. Mick passed the lace parlor each day at lunch and took a liking to a young lass who worked there. None of the other girls, however, would tell him where she lived. One day he noticed a bit of fine lace tied to a bush and then another a bit farther away tied to a tree and then another, and another. The trail led straight to Annie's house and the couple's eventual marriage. Annie taught her fine skills to Fiona, a talent that would prove both profitable and lifesaving. When the local mill closed, the family left Ireland to work for a wealthy family in Chicago; in exchange for their work, their passage was taken care of, so they received no pay. Fiona's fine lace was beautiful, and there was a market for it, so she made lace while her parents had second jobs in the evenings, including the night of the Great Fire. Abandoning their home for a safer place that fateful night, Fiona and Ailish remembered their father's story and left a trail of lace to direct their parents to them. An endnote explains that a framed piece of Fiona's lace still rests with honor in Polacco's home. Illustrated with pencil and acetone markers in Polacco's recognizable style, this is a story with many themes and lessons—the love of family, the immigrant experience, and family history and stories passing from generation to generation, to name a few. It's sure to find an appreciative audience.—Roxanne Burg, Orange County Public Library, CA - Copyright 2014 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 09/01/2014 The most compelling feature of this well-crafted immigrants’ story is how it might inspire adults to share their own family stories with their kids. Polacco, who is of Russian Ukrainian and Irish descent, uses the experiences of her Irish ancestors to tell this story of a poor lace-making family in Ireland who, after the closing of the local mill, decide they must journey to America. It is a familiar immigrant story of expecting riches but meeting hardship, told with admirable economy and effectiveness, especially at showing the Irish women as indentured servants of a wealthy family in Chicago. The climax is the Great Chicago Fire, which we see from the perspective of Fiona and her little sister, who are alone at home. Fiona grabs some precious lace, executing a nifty reunion of the scattered family, leading to a wonderful resolution. There is quite a lot happening here, and Polacco handles it with aplomb, offering up clear, detailed prose and hardscrabble watercolor illustrations that drive home both rural and urban struggles. - Copyright 2014 Booklist.