Maggie's Door
Maggie's Door
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Annotation: In the mid-1800s, Nory and her neighbor and friend, Sean, set out separately on a dangerous journey from famine-plagued Ireland, hoping to reach a better life in America.
Catalog Number: #186102
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
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Special Formats: Inventory Sale Inventory Sale
Publisher: Random House
Copyright Date: 2003
Edition Date: 2005
Pages: 158 p.
Availability: Available (Limited Quantities Available / While Supplies Last)
ISBN: Publisher: 0-440-41581-0 Perma-Bound: 0-605-02463-4
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-440-41581-7 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-02463-2
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2003002415
Dimensions: 20 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
In this sequel to Nory Ryan's Song (2000), Nory and some of her family and neighbors, driven from home by the starvation and disease of the Irish potato famine in the 1840s, try to reach the coast of Galway and then sail across the sea to join their families in America. Children unfamiliar with the first book may sometimes find it difficult to keep track of who's who here, especially since the story is told in the alternating narratives of Nory and her close friend, Sean, both of whom care for each other's relatives as well as their own. What is absolutely riveting is the harsh realism of the "coffin ships": the crammed quarters, the hunger and brutality; the terror of a storm at sea; the strange sense of community and the hope. Giff brings the immigration history to life through the heartbreaking experiences of parting, loss, and, sometimes, thrilling reunion.
Horn Book
At the end of Nory Ryan's Song, Nory is trying to meet up with her family so they can all sail to America. This book alternates between the story of Nory's journey and that of her friend Sean, traveling with Nory's little brother. Giff uses vivid language and precisely detailed observation to convey experience and emotion. Nory and Sean's trip, complete by story's end, is just the beginning of a new and different type of journey.
Kirkus Reviews
<p>Nory Ryan is the last of her family to leave 1840s famine-tortured Ireland to join her sister Maggie in Brooklyn. Giff tells the story of the parallel journeys of Nory, her friend Sean, and some of her family members as they encounter the cruelties of English landlords, fellow travelers who would steal any bit of food they could get, the occasional kindness of those same desperate strangers, as well as their own searing hunger. Sean and Nory discover each other again during the horrors of the ocean-crossing on one of the infamous "coffin" ships. They suffer illness and pain and loss until they reach America and Maggie's door at 416 Smith Street. Based on her own family's history, Giff employs vivid language, attention to detail, and fully realized characters, along with extensive research to bring the era and its people to life. Heart-wrenching and unforgettable. (Historical fiction. 10-14)</p>
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.)

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.
Word Count: 30,913
Reading Level: 5.0
Interest Level: 5-9
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.0 / points: 5.0 / quiz: 74694 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:5.2 / points:8.0 / quiz:Q34084
Lexile: 720L
Guided Reading Level: V
Fountas & Pinnell: V

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.

Excerpted from Maggie's Door by Patricia Reilly Giff
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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.

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