Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Giff, Patricia Reilly (2006). Water Street. 164 pages. Grades 4-6.

It is 1875 and 13 year-old Bird Mallon lives with her family on Water Street with a view of the Brooklyn Bridge as it was being built. Her parents came to New York from Ireland and want nothing more for Bird and her siblings than to grow up with more education and opportunities than they had. Bird’s mother is a healer, her sister Annie works in a box factory, and Hughie fights for money.
When new tenants move into their building, Bird hopes that she will have a new girl friend, instead she meets Thomas Neary, a boy, who writes stories and lives with his Pop, who spends most of his time at the bar. The story follows Thomas and Bird's friendship through 8th grade graduation. Throughout this time they share with each other their hopes and dreams. Giff's use of historical material provides an accurate portrayal of the struggle of Irish immigrants in New York. This is a great book that can be used to supplement history lessons on 19th century Irish immigrant life.

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