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Elizabeth Bush (The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, December 1996 (Vol. 50, No. 4))
At the conclusion of Book One, exhausted emigrants Patrick and Maura were awaiting their steerage berth assignments, errant Sir Laurence was stowed away in a crate in the Robert Peel's hold, and readers were clenching their teeth firmly on their fingernails. Scarcely skipping a heartbeat between volumes, Avi lashes the action along, setting old enemies on the trio's trail and new obstacles in their path, most formidable of which is the Order of the Star-spangled Banner, an anti-immigrant organization lying in ambush in the children's promised land of Lowell, Massachusetts. Luckily, new allies join the side of the angels: Nathaniel, Da's teenaged roommate; the Hamlyns, kindly boarding house owners; even the once-treacherous Mr. Grout, now repentant and zealously atoning for past misdeeds. Taut and ingenious plotting, breakneck pacing, and meticulously timed shifts among story lines easily counter the Dickensian heft of the saga, and readers can expect to put their own lives on hold until the last villain is punished, all heroes and heroines are rewarded, and the back cover is slapped shut with a sigh of relief. R*--Highly recommended as a book of special distinction. Reviewed from galleys (c) Copyright 1996, The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 1996, Jackson/Orchard, [400p], $19.99 and $18.95. Grades 6-9.
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