Sewing! No one could hate it more than Dina Kirk.
Endless tiny stitches, button holes, darts. Since she was tiny, shes worked in her familys dressmaking business, where the sewing machine is a cranky member of the family.
When 13-year-old Dina leaves her small town in Germany to join her uncles family in Brooklyn, she turns her back on sewing. Never again! But looking for a job leads her right back to the sewing machine. Why did she ever leave home? Here she is, still with a needle and threadand homesick to boot.
She didnt know she could be this homesick, but she didnt know she could be so brave either, as she is standing up to an epidemic or a fire. She didnt know she could grow so close to her new family or to Johann, the young man from the tailors shop. And she didnt know that sewing would reveal her own wonderful talentand her future.
In Dina, the beloved writer Patricia Reilly Giff has created one of her most engaging and vital heroines. Readers will enjoy seeing 1870s Brooklyn through Dinas eyes, and share her excitement as she discovers a new world.
Outside was war. I could hear the pop-pop-pop of the cannons.
Inside was the sewing room. Gray cloth forms of Mama's clients stood along one wall, reminding me of the soldiers we saw on the streets outside, but without their spiked helmets, of course, or their splendid blue tunics with the gold trim.
War! How exciting it was. Our own German soldiers from the Fifth Infantry Regiment had swarmed into our sleepy little town, determined to take on the French who lived just on the other side of the Rhine River.
And that sparkling river flowed so close to our front door I could have tossed a stone from my window and seen the ripples it made in the water.
I didn't care two pins about our Otto von Bismarck and his determination to unite all of Germany in this war. What difference could it possibly make to me?
But I did love to think about those soldiers, who looked so fierce and elegant . . . and who wandered up and down the street so close to the sewing room that...
Reilly Giff, author of about
60 books for children, says that
she tries to write books "that
say ordinary people are
special." She says that all of
her books are based in some way
on her personal experiences, or
the experiences of members of
her family, or children she
meets. In an afterword to
The House of Tailors she
explains that the character of
Dina is based on her
great-grandmother, 'a loving,
laughing woman...who was the
heart of our family even long
after her death'.
If you liked The House of Tailors, try these:
A moving story of a first-generation Japanese-American girl facing the hardships and discrimination of post WWII America. Winner of the 2005 Newbery Award. Ages 11+.
Johnny's dad, a toymaker, sends his son letters and carved soldiers from the front in WWI. When Johnny's toy battles seem to foretell his dad's real battles, Johnny fears he controls his father's fate. A poignant narrative of war and its effects on the people who live through it. Ages 10-14.
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