Monday, March 16, 2015

Rory's Promise ~ historical fiction

Rory's Promise (Hidden Histories)
by Michaela MacColl & Rosemary Nichols
288 pages; ages 9-12
Calkins Creek, 2014

Rory's Promise kicks off a new series for Calkins Creek: the Hidden Histories. And what a fun way to start - with a tale from the Orphan Trains, but set in the wild west.

Twelve-year old Rory Fitzpatrick has been caring for her sister Violet ever since their parents died. They live at the Sisters of Charity Foundling orphanage in New York City, where Rory's been making herself indispensable helping with the younger kids.

When the nuns send Violet to an adoptive family in the Arizona territory, Rory finagles a way to go along. It involve a crazy ride on top of a carriage and stowing away aboard the train, where she meets other orphans bound for families in the plains states.

Rory's read the Wild West stories, so she knows what to expect... until they arrive in the mining town where the adoptive families are waiting. Nothing she's read has prepared Rory for a dirt-street town with no street lights and humble abodes that are just a step up from the tenements of New York. Then there's the racial conflict: the nuns want to place the children in good Catholic homes, but the only Catholics in the town are Mexicans who work in the mines. The wealthy white families demand that these children be placed with families that "look like them".

How Rory keeps her sister safe, and negotiates for safe passage of most of the children makes for an adventure tale worth reading more than once.

Today is Marvelous Middle Grade Monday and we're hanging out with other MMGM bloggers over at Shannon Messenger's blog. Hop over to see what other people are reading.  Review copy provided by publisher.


  1. Great post, and thanks for sharing it. I read this and also thought it was an interesting book. Those orphan trains are not something you read much about in kid lit, so this is a welcomed book. Experiences like Rory and Violet's must have been pretty scary for kids already alone in the world.

  2. The cover on this one is great. So much intrigue and mystery. Can't wait to give this unique story a read. Thanks for the review.

  3. I have had this on my radar for awhile. Thanks for the reminder. Your review just moved this up my TBR list.

  4. This sounds really intriguing. I've enjoyed some other books about the orphan train. I love the cover--she actually looks like the age of the protagonist too!

  5. I remember first hearing about this book from Michael G-G. Hidden Histories is a great idea for a series.