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A House of Tailors
Contributor(s): Giff, Patricia Reilly
ISBN: 0440238005     ISBN-13: 9780440238003
Publisher: Yearling Books
    OUR PRICE: $6.30  
Product Type: Paperback - Other Formats
Published: August 2006
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Annotation: SEWING! NO ONE could hate it more than Dina Kirk.
Endless tiny stitches, button holes, darts. Since she was tiny, she' s worked in her family' s 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 uncle' s 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 thread-- and homesick to boot.
She didn' t know she could be this homesick, but she didn' t know she could be so brave either, as she is standing up to an epidemic or a fire. She didn' t know she could grow so close to her new family or to Johann, the young man from the tailor' s shop. And she didn' t know that sewing would reveal her own wonderful talent-- and 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 Dina' s eyes, and share her excitement as she discovers a new world.

"From the Hardcover edition."

Additional Information
BISAC Categories:
- Juvenile Fiction | Family
- Juvenile Fiction | Historical | United States
Dewey: FIC
Academic/Grade Level: Grade 4-6, Age 9-11
Book type: Juvenile Fiction
Physical Information: 7.50" H x 5.25" W x 0.50" (0.25 lbs) 148 pages
 
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.
Publisher Description:
SEWING NO ONE could hate it more than Dina Kirk.
Endless tiny stitches, button holes, darts. Since she was tiny, she' s worked in her family' s 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 uncle' s 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 thread-- and homesick to boot.
She didn' t know she could be this homesick, but she didn' t know she could be so brave either, as she is standing up to an epidemic or a fire. She didn' t know she could grow so close to her new family or to Johann, the young man from the tailor' s shop. And she didn' t know that sewing would reveal her own wonderful talent-- and 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 Dina' s eyes, and share her excitement as she discovers a new world.

"From the Hardcover edition."


Reviewed by Horn Book Guide Reviews (Horn Book Guide Reviews 2005 Spring)
Fleeing Germany during the Franco-Prussian War, thirteen-year-old Dina arrives in Brooklyn. In the distinctive first-person narrative, Dina assists her uncle in his sewing business, saves her cousin's life during a smallpox epidemic, and slowly adjusts to her new life. The familiar story is given depth by characters who change and grow and by its poignant understanding of the immigrant experience. Copyright 2005 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Reviewed by Horn Book Magazine Reviews (Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2004 #6)
With her older sister poised to leave Germany to live with relatives in America, Dina gloomily ponders her own future in the family sewing business, "bent over a piece of fabric, a needle in my hand, for the rest of my life!" But when the thirteen-year-old is seized by soldiers (the novel opens in 1870, during the Franco-Prussian War) and wrongly accused of spying, the family decides Dina must travel to New York in Katharina's stead. Arriving in Brooklyn, Dina is disappointed to discover that her uncle and his family live in a five-floor walkup, her bedroom is a windowless closet, and the worn carpet beneath the sewing machine is a sign that "this was a house of tailors, no different from my own, except that it was poorer." The distinctive first-person narrative describes Dina's experiences as she grudgingly assists "the Uncle" (as she always refers to him) with his sewing, saves her baby cousin's life during a smallpox epidemic and the whole family from a Christmas-night fire, and slowly adjusts to her new life in the United States. The story is familiar, but it's given depth by characters who change and grow (Dina's frequent clashes with her equally headstrong uncle evolve into mutual respect), a double-edged central dilemma (the thing Dina hates the most -- sewing -- is the talent that may bring her a "wonderful future"), and an awareness of the poignant duality that so often marks the immigrant experience ("We would always have a longing to go back, and a longing to stay"). Copyright 2004 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly Reviews (PW Reviews 2004 November #1)
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.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Reviewed by School Library Journal Reviews (SLJ Reviews 2004 October)
Gr 5-8-This novel is rich with believable, endearing characters as well as excitement and emotion. Dina, 13, can't wait to leave Germany and begin her new life in America with Mama's rich brother and his family. She longs to finally escape the drudgery of her mother's sewing shop, even though she is often reminded, "As much as you hate sewing, Dina, that's how much the needle and thread love you." As soon as she arrives at the cramped, five-story walk-up, however, she knows that she has entered a house of tailors, "no different from my own, except that it was poorer." Though she helps Aunt Barbara with the house and baby Maria, Uncle Lucas views her as a burden. She has no choice but to sew for him, her only consolation being the 40 cents he will give her each day toward her passage home. Gradually, Dina grows to love her new family, meets another "greenhorn" with whom she can reminisce and trade new American words, and becomes a promising hat and dressmaker. She also nurses Barbara and Maria through smallpox and carries the child to safety during a devastating fire. Readers get a glimpse into life in Brooklyn in the 1870s, especially the dreaded Health Department inspections during the epidemic. Sprinkled with letters from home, the story captures the universal immigrant dilemma, "we would always have a longing to go back, and a longing to stay."-Barbara Auerbach, New York City Public Schools Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.