MrsK's Seasoned Reader Picks

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Rory's Promise by Michaela MacColl and Rosemary Nichols

ISBN: 9781620916230
Publisher's Synopsis:
Twelve-year-old orphan Rory Fitzpatrick lives with her younger sister Violet at New York City’s Foundling Hospital in the early 1900s. But when Rory discovers that Violet will be sent to the Arizona Territory to be adopted, her world is shattered. Although too old to be adopted herself, Rory—brave and smart—is determined to stay with her sister, even if it means hiding out on a train traveling west. When Rory and Violet arrive in Arizona, everything that could go wrong does go wrong. Will Rory give up? This uplifting novel about the power of faith and the true meaning of family launches the Hidden Histories series, spotlighting little-known tales from America’s past, and the children behind those stories. Includes authors’ note and further resources.

MrsK's Review:
"Rory, you're tying my bow too tight. My hair hurts.
Hush, don't be foolish. Your hair can't hurt. Your scalp can hurt like the dickens,
but not your hair.... There you are. Pretty as a picture.
Your new family is going to love you.

Historical fiction is such a delight to read. When it is woven to perfection, as a reader, you are walking beside all who enter the story. For today's young readers, history is often overlooked because it just isn't as "flashy" as a graphic novel. The action isn't taking over the storyline. Unfortunately, our younger generation has no connection to these moments in our American history, this was so long ago that they have never "heard" anyone sharing stories about what was once reality and is now described as historical.

Historical fiction is about lives during a point in our not so distant past. Children who were orphaned, or whose parents died were placed on trains bound for the western frontier. This story is about a brave young lady. Although she is only twelve, what once was an age of reason, would provide Rory with the determination, the resources, and the strength in keeping her promise and watching over her little sister.

When the NYC Foundling Hospital betrays her with the fact that her sister will be heading west to a new home (with out her), Rory knows that she will be stowed-away on Violet's journey. Would you be willing to leave a place where you were cared for, where you had duties that "fit" and weren't a burden? Would you be willing to take a leap of faith and hide on a train heading into the wild west?  What would you be willing to face in order to keep your promise for your sibling?

Rory's undeniable strength and calling is that she cares for all children. She has what was once called an "old soul." This character is so richly described that by the fifth chapter she has made a room into your heart.  Rory is courageous, outspoken, bold and yet respectful. Rory will not stop to do what is right and once she has given her word, you can count on her to see it through. Her spunk and determination will land her on top of a street car, running and hopping on a train, and facing Sister Anna's wrath without hesitation. Quick witted Rory knows that six days on a train with 57 children will strain each of the nuns, so she has found a way to stay with her sister and not get sent back to NYC at the next station.

When she meets up with a "street" orphan, she doesn't turn her back on her... in fact she will help her find just the right parents once the train stops in St. Louis. Rory makes sure that the starving "orphan train" children in a different train car are feed with supplies that the nuns had in reserve for the foundlings.  She will help even the youngest while they transition from her hand into their new parent's hand. And once they arrive in Clifton, Arizona she will prevent "chaos" from over-riding the hopes of good homes vs. being grabbed at and "snatched" from those parents who were already listed as the adopting families.

This new series has a storyline that never gets lost. Characters that speak to you even if your unavailable for a while. The historical settings and details adds "life" to a time that is quickly becoming lost to us. These children, whether protected by a church or sent out and away from being a burden to a city... were children. They were in need of adults who would provide food, clothing, shelter, safety... and most of all encouraging love. What they were given then was either an answer to prayer or horrible abuse... allow this new series to speak to your children, your students, and our future generation!

This read isn't just an enjoyable read, it will move you... it will remind you... and it should cause you to share it...


A must read, experience, share, and connect for our younger generation in our classrooms, libraries, and homes.
Meet the Authors:
Photo: Michaela MacColl  Michaela MacColl has published several historical fiction novels. Prisoners in the Palace received a starred review from School Library Journal and was selected as an Indie Next Choice. Promise the Night received starred reviews and was selected for the ALA Amelia Bloomer List, IRA's Notable Books for a Global Society, and Bank Street College's Best Books of 2012. She has degrees in multi-disciplinary history from Vassar College and Yale University. Rory’s Promise is the first in the Hidden Histories series published by Calkins Creek books. She and her family live in Connecticut.

Rosemary Nichols has loved history all her life, especially the history of ordinary people. She has two history degrees from the University of Washington and a law degree from the University of Chicago. This is her first book for children. She lives in upstate New York.

"I received this book for free for this review"

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