cover image A HOUSE OF TAILORS


Patricia Reilly Giff, . . Random/Lamb, $15.95 (176pp) ISBN 978-0-385-73066-2

After writing Nory Ryan's Song and Maggie's Door , two novels inspired by family history, Giff takes another trip back, this time to 1870 Germany. Here she introduces 13-year-old Dina, a spunky, courageous heroine based on the author's great-grandmother. While war rages between Germany and France, Dina is sent to America to stay with her Uncle Lucas, his wife and baby daughter. Believing that all people in Brooklyn, N.Y., live "in luxury," Dina is bitterly disappointed to find out that her uncle is anything but rich. To make matters worse, he is a tailor by trade like Dina's widowed mother, and he expects Dina to continue doing what she detests most: stitching trousers and dresses for wealthy clients. But Dina's skill with a needle along with her quick-wittedness and strong stubborn streak allow her to save the day for Uncle's family more than once. The author offers a realistic portrayal of hardships typical of the period. Dina survives cramped living conditions, a smallpox epidemic, a devastating fire and recurring pangs of homesickness before finding her niche in Brooklyn. While the author develops the relationship between Dina and her uncle subtly and gradually, readers may wish that the blossoming affection between the heroine and her love interest were equally fleshed out. Still, most will empathize with Dina's sorrows and share her gratification when she eventually finds happiness and a profitable, enjoyable vocation. Ages 9-12. (Oct.)