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Maggie's Door

Maggie's Door

4.1 17
by Patricia Reilly Giff

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We will dance on the cliffs of Brooklyn.

Maggie’s Door is the story of the journey from Ireland to America told by both Nory and her neighbor and friend Sean Red Mallon, two different stories with the same destination—the home of Nory’s sister Maggie, at 416 Smith Street, Brooklyn, America.

Patricia Reilly Giff calls upon her long


We will dance on the cliffs of Brooklyn.

Maggie’s Door is the story of the journey from Ireland to America told by both Nory and her neighbor and friend Sean Red Mallon, two different stories with the same destination—the home of Nory’s sister Maggie, at 416 Smith Street, Brooklyn, America.

Patricia Reilly Giff calls upon her long research into Irish history and her great powers as a storyteller in this deeply involving, riveting stand-alone companion novel to Nory Ryan’s Song.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Beginning where Nory Ryan's Song left off, this harrowing survival tale follows the journeys of Nory and her friend Sean. Alternate chapters tell two separate but equally grim accounts of hardships and loss, as the children travel on foot to a ship bound for America. Sean, waylaid by an errand (with the promise of food as repayment), loses sight of his traveling companions, his mother and Nory's younger brother, Patch. Without a ticket to board the Samson, he must find another way to gain passage. Meanwhile, Nory, who trails far behind her loved ones, is further delayed when she injures her foot and is robbed by a desperate child. Despite its grittiness, the novel succeeds in evoking a sense of hope as characters rely on their resourcefulness both to stay alive and to reach their destination. Giff strategically places strokes of good fortune so that readers are never submerged into bleak depths for too long a period. The thief who steals Nory's food, for instance, also provides her with a much-needed walking stick; Sean lands a job as cook's assistant on the Samson. Although the tedious walk to the ship may seem to readers nearly as long as the 40-day trip across the Atlantic, the book consistently expresses the children's strength and courage-which eventually leads them to one another and, later, to Maggie's door in Brooklyn. The protagonists' arrival in New York marks a new chapter in their life, hinting that another sequel may be in the works. Ages 8-12. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Nory Ryan has a dream that one day her family will all be together again. They will be in Brooklyn in America, standing outside the door of her sister Maggie's house. Sean "Red" Mallon also has a dream. He imagines himself together with his brother Francis and Francis' new young wife Maggie. Nory Ryan, his best friend and Maggie's sister will be there with her family, and they will all be standing outside Maggie's door. These two children have this same dream but for now they have only hunger and misery in their lives. With no hope left, the Ryans and Mallons have decided to leave Ireland, and in small groups have set off on foot for the nearest port to get a ship to England, and thence another ship to America. Starving, weak, and not knowing the world beyond their own small community, the straggling travelers lose one another in the chaos of a famine-stricken Ireland. Sean finds himself alone and has to make his own way to America without a ticket or money. Slowly and painfully, Nory and Sean converge on one another, finally reuniting. Patricia Reilly Giff keeps the children's stories in separate, alternating chapters, maintaining a state of suspense as to whether the family members will, in fact, be able to find one another. The author's description of the horrors of the famine in such a matter-of-fact way makes her story very powerful. The people accept what is happening to them, which appalls us. Their poverty is almost beyond our understanding and their suffering unspeakable. Patricia Reilly Giff is also is a master of the use of imagery. For example, she frequently describes the potato crop as a stinking "ooze" in contrast to the pretty bluish purple flowers that one sees blossomingin a field of healthy potato plants. The companion to Nory Ryan's Song, this is a book that most readers will find disturbing. At the same time, it reminds one of the strength and endurance of the human spirit and how powerful love can be. No matter how much people suffer, they can rise above it and still find the ability to keep on going and even able to help others. 2003, Wendy Lamb Books, Ages 9 to 12.
— Marya Jansen-Gruber
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8-Fans of Nory Ryan's Song (Delacorte, 2000) will not want to miss this sequel. It begins as Nory leaves her home in Ireland a few days behind her friend Sean Red Mallon, his mother, and Nory's four-year-old brother, Patch, to embark on their journey to America. In alternating stories, Nory and Sean relate their distressing experiences as they make their way toward Nory's sister's house in Brooklyn. Both characters face trickery, cruelty, starvation, filthy conditions, and storms at sea, but they are determined to reach their destination. The theme is one of courage and hope for the future. The characters are developed fully, revealing their determination and courage, as well as their fears. Both Nory and Sean grow as individuals as they face each obstacle to their final goal. The mood of anticipation and apprehension is sustained as readers travel with them toward Maggie's door. Giff's descriptive language and detailed descriptions enable children to visualize the countryside and events along the way. Factual information on the potato blight and the resulting emigration is explained in an afterword. A welcome addition to any historical-fiction collection.-Margaret R. Tassia, Millersville University, PA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
With her sure storytelling voice and gentle-hearted touch, Giff spins another tale of immigration, this one her German great-grandmother's story. Dina is a typical teen, mooning over handsome soldiers and fashionable hats, and immigrating to an idealized America. Arriving in Brooklyn to stay with her Uncle and family, reality strikes: Dina is overwhelmed with homesickness and the uncle is impoverished. Worse, he expects her to pay for her keep by sewing all day, a skill that she possesses but despises. Predictably she makes her way, winning over the dour uncle, proving her worth, and making indispensable contributions to her new family. Like the best of Giff's heroines, Dina is winningly flawed, full of childish self-interest, but she grows in her understanding of herself, her skill with a needle, her place in the family, and the recognition that, like all immigrants, she will always have a heart in two places. The plot is swept along by dramatic truths of Brooklyn life in the 1870s: economic struggle, epidemic, and fire, as well as a hint of romance. Giff's fans will be pleased. (Fiction. 9-12)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.25(w) x 7.69(h) x 0.41(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

one nory

Nory hadn't gone far, just over the rise, when she heard it.

A voice?

"Ocras," it screamed. "Ocras."


Nory took another step and stopped. On one side of her were the dunes, on the other the great ocean. A strange place she was in, with wisps of fog drifting across the road. And again that sound.

The wind, she told herself, even though she knew it wasn't.

Granda had told her of selkies, half seal, half human. When they lived on land they wept bitter tears for the deep; when they returned to the sea they mourned for lost loves on the land.

Was that it? The cry of some poor selkie woman? Such an eerie sound.

The crying stopped and Nory began to walk again. One foot in front of the other. Away from home, away from that empty house with the door banging in the wind. The trip just beginning.

The sand drifted across the road, grains of it sticking to her bare feet. The crying reminded her of her little brother, Patch, and the last time she had seen him, his arms flung out to her from the back of her friend Sean Red Mallon's cart.

And where was that cart now, Sean pulling its heavy weight while Patch leaned against Mrs. Mallon in back? How far had they gone along that winding road toward the port of Galway?

She quickened her steps.

Don't think about Patch, or the Mallons, or the rest of the family, all gone ahead to find a ship, she told herself. Just keep going. Nearly at the crossroads.

"Ocras, ocras," came the cry again, and with it the sound of powerful wings.

That was what it was, then, not a voice but the call of a great seabird.

It swooped down over her head, too close. She dropped her bag and clutched the top of her head with both hands. As the bird rose she saw the snow-white body, the huge wingspan, the curved beak, and eyes that were strangely human.

She had seen such a bird once when she and Granda had walked along the cliff ledge. Granda had thrown it a piece of dulse from his pocket. "Travelers must give the white bird food. It will bring luck until the end of the journey," he had told her.

"But we're only going home," she had said. "Only a few steps."

"Ah, still."

Granda. How she missed him!

But what could she give the bird?

She had so little--papers Da had sent that would get her onto a ship, and a coin from her neighbor Anna sewed into her shawl, and what was in her bag, the bits of things Anna had managed to put together for the long trip ahead of her: herbs for illness, a biscuit so hard it had to be soaked in water, a bit of meat, and two pieces of brack, rock hard as the biscuit.

The bird circled over her, higher now. Nory dropped to the ground, scrambling for the bag, and reached deep inside for the biscuit. Anna's voice was in her ear: "There are only these bits of food between you and starvation. Guard them."

She held the biscuit in her hand as the bird wheeled over her head once more, but it was too hard to break into pieces. Suppose she threw all of it?

Between you and starvation, the wind said.

"Traveler's luck," Granda whispered in her head.

What should she do? Her mouth tingled with the thought of that biscuit, the softness of it when she'd find a stream for dipping, the taste of it on her tongue.

There was no time to think or the bird would be gone.

She took a step forward, reached over her head, and tossed the biscuit high into the air.

Effortlessly the bird swooped to catch it in its beak. It climbed high over the dunes with it and headed out over the waves that broke at the edge of the strand.

"It's the whole biscuit," she called. "For my whole family. Remember that." Her hair blew into her face and she raked it back impatiently so she could see where the bird went. "We're all of us traveling."

And that voice in her head again: But you, Nory, are alone.

The bird skimmed over the surf, but then, just before it was out of sight, it dropped the biscuit into the sea.

Nory's hand went to her mouth, hard against her teeth. Foolish girl, Anna would have said. You needed that food to stay alive.

Nory cupped her hands around her mouth. "Don't forget us. All of us. Da. Granda and Celia. Patch . . . and my friend Sean Red Mallon. Don't forget Sean."

The bird was almost out of sight. "We are trying for America," she called after it. "We want to stand at Maggie's door in Brooklyn."

From the Hardcover edition.

Meet the Author

Patricia Reilly Giff is the author of the Newbery Honor Books Lily’s Crossing and Pictures of Hollis Woods. Lily’s Crossing is also a Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor Book. Giff’s Nory Ryan’s Song is an ALA Notable Book, Best Book for Young Adults, a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, and a Golden Kite Honor Book.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Maggie's Door 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
brianna777 More than 1 year ago
Maggie’s Door by Patricia reilly giff is an amazing book showing the struggle getting to America from Ireland. Its equally sad and strengthening. The book is similar to Anne Frank but also completely different. Different struggles, people, and journeys. While Anne Frank hid out for months from germans. Nory had to walk miles and miles with her neighbor and sister. She had close to nothing but also had so much too loose. Her hope is to make it to the boat she believes will take her to America. Where she will find her older sister waiting for her. Where she would have finally have found Maggie's Door. Patricia reilly giff did an amazing job writing from the view of Nory and Sean. She was able to imagine just what they thought of, went through, and imagined for the future. Patricia had not been to ireland at all when she heard of Maidin Bay. How when their crops failed they had to choose whether to stay and starve or take the journey to America. She traveled to Ireland and did tons of research. Then came up with the amazing concept. I think this book is amazing for every reader. No matter what your favorite genre is. Nory and Sean are probably the strongest fifteen year olds in any story. They did what most couldn't i know that i certainly couldn't. To be able to take the journey to Galaway just on the hope that there will be ships there to take them to America. Not even sure they set off knowing that if they did stay they would starve. Miles and Miles with just one cart and a dream. Its quite empowering and shows us just how easy our lives really are. Of course Nory and Sean don't really exist but in a way they did. Hundreds of people made the journey as Nory and Sean did to America. Who knows what they went through, what they saw, or even how many of them even made it. But Patricia did an amazing job creating a story that we could believe and at least give us a chance to imagine and feel as if we were part of their journey. Thats what i believe the lesson is here. To remind us what the past generations had to go through and just where we would be without them. I read this book in three days. Sounds impossible especially how busy one can be. But with a story so amazing as this one its hard to put down to eat and sleep. I encourage you to read this book. Even if its not the first you would pick. But because i think we all need to reminded how good our lives really are.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book club book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book about a young girl and boy who leave Ireland during the Irish Potato famine and make their way to NYC to join relatives. At times heart-wrenching, but in the end uplifting. A great Book Report book. Short, but leaves lots of room for additional reserach about Ireland, Potato Famine, Immigration. There are campanion books, but each book can stand alone. Excellent Writer.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Summary This book is told from two points of view. A girl named Nory and her neighbor and friend, Sean. It is about most of the people from a big village and many more from the same area trying to get to America from Maidin Bay which is in Ireland. There was a food starvation period and all the plants died so there is no more food. This is a great story that will tell you about an amazing journey and relationships that are broken by its hardships. This book is amazing so you should read it now. What I liked about the book What I liked about the book is how it was told by two people and the two totally different adventures. Also the whole time I wanted to read more and more. It was also an interesting story and how things happened are what you wouldn¿t have guessed and you could feel how the characters were feeling. Also you could relate to the characters and how the story went. That is why I liked the book, Maggie¿s Door. What I disliked about the book The one and only thing I disliked about the book is that in some parts I didn¿t know what was going on or what was happening. At times they showed the action before they said what happened and that¿s why I couldn¿t always follow along.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i luv this book, too. it was a perfect sequel to nory ryan's song, full of hope and sadness. i loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gret book!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was a great sequel to Nory Ryan's song! I would recomend reading Nory Ryan's Song first though. I thought the story and plot behind this book was really great and the topic was interesting. It was very devastating to me to see what children in Ireland were going thru during the Great Potato Famine.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was horrible from the beginning. It was very confusing and hard to follow. If this was the last book on Earth, I would certainly NOT read it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I, unfortunately didn't get to read Nory Ryan's Song b/c I am clueless and didn't know that it was a sequel. I'm a little ashamed though b/c i saw it in my school library and it was short so i picked it up. I didn't understand I was about to read a FANTASTIC book, oh yeah and i feel a lil' old for it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The begining of this book was really hard to follow i couldn't understand it. I always fell asleep when i read this book