The House of Tailors by Patricia Reilly Giff
Goodreads: 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.
This is one of those books that I stumbled upon just by browsing my library shelves – I liked the title and the cover, and it ended up in my tote bag (Surely, I’m not the only one who grabs a book from the shelf based on the cover design?). I think I read this in one or two nights (an intermediate chapter book, from age 9-10+) and loved it! Again, readers may have noticed that historical fiction is one of my favorite children’s genres.
Brooklyn, New York – 1870: Dina arrives from Germany after being accused of being a spy from French soldiers. Her mother, who runs a beloved and essential sewing service to their German town, decides to send Dina to live with her uncle in America. Dina is young and thinks this is the opportunity of her life, since all of the wonderful things she’d learned about America must be true!
Then, Dina arrives to her uncle’s five story walk up building in Brooklyn, where she is designated a small attic like room space – nothing like her home in Germany. Once she realizes that her uncle intends for her to help his sewing business, day and night, Dina has regret and begins to become very homesick. The tenement life is nothing like Dina imagined and she is torn between her comfortable German home and her new, difficult journey. Giff chooses relevant and essential parts of history to make the details of Dina’s new life not only realistic but informative for readers.