by Michaela MacColl & Rosemary Nichols
Calkins Creek Books (September 1, 2014)
Audience: Ages 9 to 12
Historical Fiction * Sisters * Orphans
Educator's Discussion Guide
Indie Bound | WorldCat
Description from GoodReads:
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.
Thoughts about the book:
Historical fiction has always been my favorite way to enter into history. History can be fascinating when you study the stories behind the events. However, too often we make it about a list of events and dates. Not as fun, at least in my mind.
Michaela MacColl has written several historical fiction novels and Rory's Promise is the first in a new series of Hidden Histories by Calkins Creek Books. In this middle grade historical fiction novel, readers learn about the Great Arizona Orphan Abduction through the eyes and lives of 12 year old Rory and her five year old sister Violet. When Rory's younger sister is going to be separated from her and sent out to Arizona to be adopted, Rory must act quickly. Though there was no known quick thinking 12 year old girls helping out the Sisters, the story still captures the emotions and general experiences that would have been part of the lives of children who had indeed been on an Orphan Train during this incident.
One of the things that I particularly found fascinating with Rory's Promise is the complexity of what was happening both from the perspective of the Orphan Trains taking children away from New York and sometimes from their families, as well as, the racial tensions and prejudice against Mexican families adopting Irish Catholic children. As I was reading the book, I keep looking up information because I wanted to know more about this event in history that I had heard little of before reading Rory's Promise. And any book that sparks readers to want to learn more about a topic or an event is great to include as part of the classroom curriculum.
The end of the book includes an author's note and additional resources. Though the book lends itself to further discussion on its own, there is a link above to the educator's discussion guide.
Additional information about the Orphan Trains and New York Foundling Hospital:
Official Book Trailer:
About Michaela MacColl:
Michaela attended Vassar College and Yale University earning degrees in multi-disciplinary history. Unfortunately, it took her 20 years before she realized she was learning how to write historical fiction. Her favorite stories are the ones she finds about the childhood experiences of famous people. She has written about a teenaged Queen Victoria (Prisoners in the Palace, Chronicle 2010) and Beryl Markham’s childhood (Promise the Night, Chronicle 2011). She is writing a literary mystery series for teens featuring so far a young Emily Dickinson in Nobody’s Secret (2013) and the Bronte sisters in Always Emily (2014). She has recently begun a new series with Boyd’s Mill/Highlights called Hidden Histories about odd events in America’s past. The first entry in the series is Rory’s Promise and will be published in September 2014. She frequently visits high schools and has taught at the Graduate Institute in Bethel, CT. She lives in Westport CT with her husband, two teenaged daughters and three extremely large cats.
Don't forget to enter to win a copy of Rory's Promise - Thank you Calkins Creek Books for sponsoring the giveaway. Participants must be 13 years old or older to enter and have a U.S. mailing address.