If you like feisty heroines, whatever their age or the historical setting, you will love Rory Fitzpatrick. Rory and her younger sister, Violet, are orphans living in the Foundling Hospital in New York in 1904. They have been there for 3 years, and now Sister Anna has found parents to adopt Violet. But Rory doesn't want to be separated from her sister, especially not when her sister is being sent to the Arizona Territory! Rory goes to incredible lengths so that she can make sure her sister is safe and happy. The fact that the book is based on actual events, even though Rory and Violet are fictional, adds even more appeal to the story.
For readers who enjoy historical fiction or want to learn more about the early 20th century and the westward movement of settlers, this is a fast-paced story with plenty of period details. Everything from the clothing, the novelty of an indoor "water closet" at the orphanage, and even paddy wagons adds to the feeling that we are in the start of the twentieth century with Rory and Violet. This would make a great read-aloud for a class, because there are plenty of suspenseful moments to stop and leave everyone hanging until the next day. It would also make a good novel study to go along with a social studies unit on westward expansion in the U.S.
I've heard of the Orphan Trains, but have never really read much about them. To our modern sensibilities it seems that the children sent out west by the Children's Aid Society were shipped off and practically auctioned off like cattle. I wonder how it actually seemed to the people involved at the time? The Foundling Hospital in New York was something else I had heard of, but I had never learned any details about its history. The number of children they placed through adoption and the number of women they paid to wet-nurse the orphaned or abandoned infants is astonishing. I appreciate the research the authors did so that they could create an accurate portrayal of the time period.
I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for an adventure story, historical fiction, or books with strong female characters. This is the first of the series Hidden Histories from Calkins Creek Books. I am curious to see what historical event or time the next book tackles.
Update: We now have a copy of this book in the library.