An Irish family stays together with the help of Fiona’s talent for making one-of-a-kind lace in this heartwarming immigration story from the New York Times bestselling creator of The Keeping Quilt.

Many years ago, times were hard in all of Ireland, so when passage to America becomes available, Fiona and her family travel to Chicago. They find work in domestic service to pay back their passage, and at night Fiona turns tangles of thread into a ...
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An Irish family stays together with the help of Fiona’s talent for making one-of-a-kind lace in this heartwarming immigration story from the New York Times bestselling creator of The Keeping Quilt.

Many years ago, times were hard in all of Ireland, so when passage to America becomes available, Fiona and her family travel to Chicago. They find work in domestic service to pay back their passage, and at night Fiona turns tangles of thread into a fine, glorious lace. Then when the family is separated, it is the lace that Fiona’s parents follow to find her and her sister and bring the family back together. And it is the lace that will always provide Fiona with memories of Ireland and of her mother’s words: “In your heart your true home resides, and it will always be with you as long as you remember those you love.”

This generational story from the family of Patricia Polacco’s Irish father brims with the same warmth and heart as the classic The Keeping Quilt and The Blessing Cup, which Kirkus Reviews called “deeply affecting” in a starred review, and embraces the comfort of family commitment and togetherness that Patricia Polacco’s books are known for.
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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Polacco goes back into her family’s history again for the lengthy story of her great-great-grandmother Fiona’s lace-making ability and how it saved her and her sister Ailish after a fire and reunited the family. The hard times in Ireland send them to serve a family in Chicago. They have a depressing apartment and no wages until their fare is repaid. But a fancy dressmaker pays good money for Fiona’s lace, so they can begin to get ahead. One night, while their mother and father are out, there is a terrible fire. The girls run to safety, but how will their parents find them? Fiona cuts pieces of her precious lace to mark their path. These pieces are kept by each generation to recall the safe reunion of the family. Polacco uses “two and six B pencils and acetone markers” for her lively, naturalistic illustrations on full pages or across double spreads. The settings and the costumes of the characters are all of the period and place. Lace fills the end pages, along with Polacco’s note about her feelings concerning the lace and her family’s legacy. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz; Ages 4 to 8.
School Library Journal
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
Publishers Weekly
Polacco (Clara and Davie) adds to her library of autobiographical stories with this tale about her Irish forebear Fiona, who learns lace making when her mother’s once-expert hands are stricken with arthritis. Fiona’s father, Mick, tells his children about finding his way to their mother’s house for the first time by following scraps of lace. Not long after they leave Ireland for Chicago, the chaos of the Great Chicago Fire separates Fiona and her sister Annie from their parents, and Fiona helps her parents find them by cutting up her own precious lace to leave a similar trail. While the story occasionally bogs down in detail and the Irish dialect can be a bit over the top (“Such talk, Mick.... You’ve been kissin’ the Blarney”), Polacco’s valuable portrait of hardship in Ireland and her descriptions of the unjust working conditions that émigrés encountered in the U.S. (“Remember, they are chargin’ us rent for the rattrap we live in—they own it! And they’ll be levying for your uniform as well”) supplies a gritty picture of the immigrant experience. The prestige Fiona’s precious skill brings her is a revelation, too. Ages 4–8. (Aug.)
Kirkus Reviews
When the textile mill in Glen Kerry, Ireland, is closed, Fiona’s family accepts passage to Chicago to work as servants for the family who paid their fares.Fiona spends the endless journey making lace as her mother taught her. She and her sister, Ailish, love the oft-told story of how their father met their mother, when she tied bits of her lace in a trail from the mill to her home so he could be introduced properly. Since the family gets no wages until they pay off their passages, the parents must take other jobs after hours, but Fiona’s lace finds a market, and the family is able to save toward buying land in Michigan. But one evening, when Fiona is making lace and her parents are out working, a fire (the great Chicago fire of 1871) breaks out near their tenement. Fiona and Ailish escape with the lace, which Fiona uses to mark a path so their parents can find them, just as their father found their mother. Polacco weaves her themes well: immigrant history, family lore, poverty and oppression, and hope for the future. The greens of Ireland are beautifully pictured, and the dun and gray of the Chicago tenements are brightened by the sweetness of the lace patterns and the girls’ red hair.Polacco’s large and multiethnic family yields up another fine story, this one in greens and grays, lace and fire. (Picture book. 4-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442487253
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
  • Publication date: 8/26/2014
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: NOOK Kids Read to Me
  • Edition description: No Edition
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 691,110
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • File size: 31 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

Patricia Polacco
Patricia Polacco belongs to a family of storytellers, poets, farmers, teachers, and artists. They came from many parts of the world, but mainly Russia. She grew up to be an illustrator, a designer, and creator of many beloved children’s books, including The Keeping Quilt, The Blessing Cup, Fiona’s Lace, The Trees of the Dancing Goats, Babushka’s Doll, and My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother. She lives in Union City, Michigan.
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