Fiona's Lace

illus. by Patricia Polacco. 48p. S. & S./Paula Wiseman Bks. Aug. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781442487246; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781442487253. LC 2012047856.
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
A standard immigrant story turns dramatic when Fiona's Irish American family faces the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Polacco's own family history again provides the story's inspiration; an endnote reveals that the real Fiona's lace still exists. Polacco's emotionally resonant marker and pencil illustrations are equally adept at depicting the green Irish countryside and the grays and browns of Chicago life.

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