cover image Fiona’s Lace

Fiona’s Lace

Patricia Polacco. S&S/Wiseman, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4424-8724-6

Polacco (Clara and Davie) adds to her library of autobiographical stories with this tale about her Irish forebear Fiona, who learns lace making when her mother’s once-expert hands are stricken with arthritis. Fiona’s father, Mick, tells his children about finding his way to their mother’s house for the first time by following scraps of lace. Not long after they leave Ireland for Chicago, the chaos of the Great Chicago Fire separates Fiona and her sister Annie from their parents, and Fiona helps her parents find them by cutting up her own precious lace to leave a similar trail. While the story occasionally bogs down in detail and the Irish dialect can be a bit over the top (“Such talk, Mick.... You’ve been kissin’ the Blarney”), Polacco’s valuable portrait of hardship in Ireland and her descriptions of the unjust working conditions that émigrés encountered in the U.S. (“Remember, they are chargin’ us rent for the rattrap we live in—they own it! And they’ll be levying for your uniform as well”) supplies a gritty picture of the immigrant experience. The prestige Fiona’s precious skill brings her is a revelation, too. Ages 4–8. (Aug.)