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Children's Literature Reviews
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Ashes of roses
Mary Jane Auch.
Contributor biographical information
Publisher description
New York : H. Holt, 2002.
250 p. ; 22 cm.


Sixteen-year-old Margaret Rose Nolan, newly arrived from Ireland, finds work at New York City's Triangle Shirtwaist Factory shortly before the 1911 fire in which 146 employees died.

Best Books:

Amelia Bloomer List, 2003 ; ALA Social Responsiblities Round Table (SRRT); United States
Best Children's Books of the Year, 2003 ; Bank Street College of Education; United States
Booklist Top 10 Historical Fiction for Youth, 2002 ; American Library Association; United States
Children's Literature Choice List, 2002 ; Children's Literature; United States
Middle and Junior High School Library Catalog, Ninth Edition, 2005 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
Middle and Junior High School Library Catalog, Supplement to the Eighth Edition, 2003 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 2003 ; National Council for Social Studies; United States
Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 2003 ; National Council for the Social Studies NCSS; United States
Senior High Core Collection, Seventeenth Edition, 2007 ; The H. W. Wilson Co.; United States
Senior High School Library Catalog, Sixteenth Edition, 2003 Supplement, 2003 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
YALSA Best Books for Young Adults, 2003 ; American Library Association; United States
Young Adults' Choices, 2004 ; International Reading Association; United States

Awards, Honors, Prizes:

Golden Sower Award, 2004-2005 Honor Book Young Adult Nebraska
Society of School Librarians International Book Awards, 2002 Honor Book Language Arts-Grades 7-12 Novels United States
Thumbs Up! Award, 2003 Honor Book Michigan

State and Provincial Reading Lists:

Arizona Young Readers' Award, 2007 ; Nominee; Teen Book; Arizona
Black-Eyed Susan Book Award, 2004-2005 ; Nominee; High School; Maryland
Gateway Readers Award, 2004-2005 ; Nominee; Grades 9-12; Missouri
Georgia Children's Book Award, 2004-2005 ; Nominee; Book Award; Georgia
Georgia Children's Book Award, 2004-2005 ; Nominee; Georgia
Golden Sower Award, 2004-2005 ; Nominee; Young Adult; Nebraska
Iowa Teen Award, 2005-2006 ; Nominee; Iowa
Land of Enchantment Book Award, 2005-2006 ; Nominee; Young Adult; New Mexico
Rebecca Caudill Young Readers' Book Award, 2005 ; Nominee; Illinois
Sequoyah Book Award, 2004-2005 ; Nominee; Young Adult; Oklahoma
South Carolina Young Adult Book Award, 2004-2005 ; Nominee; South Carolina
Virginia Young Readers Program, 2004-2005 ; Nominee; Grades 10-12; Virginia
Volunteer State Book Award, 2004-2005 ; Nominee; Young Adult; Tennessee

Reading Measurement Programs:

Accelerated Reader" "
Interest Level Upper Grade" "
Book Level 4.4" "
Accelerated Reader Points 8" "
Accelerated Vocabulary" "

Lexile, MetaMetrics, Inc.
Lexile Measure 670

Reading Counts-Scholastic
Interest Level 6-8
Reading Level 5
Title Point Value 15
Lexile Measure 670

Standards of Learning Information

Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 2003 ; People, Places and Environments-III; Individual Development and Identity-IV; Production, Distribution and Consumption-VII; National Council for the Social Studies NCSS


Hazel Rochman (Booklist, Apr. 1, 2002 (Vol. 98, No. 15))
The harsh side of the Irish American immigration story is dramatized in this first-person narrative of Rose Nolan, 16, who is filled with hope when she comes with her family to New York City in 1911, but faces so much hardship and disappointment that she almost returns to the misery she left back in Limerick. Her parents do go back, and Auch shows clearly why, even as Rose and her younger sister, Maureen, insist on staying, despite the wrenching family parting and the girls' daily struggle for survival. This is, unfortunately, very much a step-by-step docunovel, and the research sometimes shows. But the facts are riveting, whether it's the inspection on Ellis Island (Rose's baby brother has trachoma so the officials won't let him in); the prejudice as well as the support the sisters get from other immigrants; or the unspeakable working conditions in the sweatshops. Rose finally gets a job at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, and the unforgettable climax of the story is her account of the tragic fire: her friends are among the 146 people who perish in the flames. They leave her with the drive to work for fair, safe working conditions, and she finds her courage and her place. Excellent supplementary reading for social studies classes and a good addition to the women's history titles reviewed in the March 1 issue of Booklist. Category: Books for Older Readers--Fiction. 2002, Holt, $16.95. Gr. 7-12.

Christopher Moning (Children's Literature)
In early 1911, 16-year-old Margaret Rose and her family emigrate from Ireland to the U.S.A. Before they ever get off of Ellis Island, however, Rose's father has to return to their native land with Joseph, the youngest son, whose eye condition prevents him from entering the country. Rose's American relatives quickly make it clear that her family is not welcome in their home, prompting Rose's mother to set sail for home as well. At the last minute, Rose and her younger sister convince their mom to let them remain in America--there is little prospect of a bright future for young women in Limerick. Eventually Rose lands a job as a seamstress at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. Her friend Gussie is a strong union supporter, pushing for women's working rights and better conditions in the factories. Discovering friends who introduce her to the latest fashion and Nickelodeon moving picture shows, Rose begins to feel the truth behind the promise of American life and liberty. Then, on March 26, 1911, Rose's world comes crashing down. Students of history may be familiar with the tragic Triangle fire that claimed 146 lives that day. But never, never has the horror been so vividly depicted as through the eyes of young Rose. The final nail-gnawing, painstakingly researched, chapters are so riveting it's impossible to imagine someone putting the book down, except to catch a breath. An amazing read. 2002, Henry Holt, $16.95. Ages 12 up.

Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2002 (Vol. 70, No. 9))
Sixteen-year-old Margaret Rose Nolan spends two endless weeks in steerage, coming to New York with her family from Limerick in 1911. But as soon as they arrive, her Da has to go back with her baby brother, whose eye disease keeps him from getting into the country. Ma, Margaret Rose (who chooses Rose as her American name), and Maureen find Uncle Patrick and prepare to stay with him, but his German wife and daughters do not take to the "greenhorns" and soon Ma, too, decides to go back. Rose wants to stay, however, despite an unpleasant experience at a flower-making sweatshop, and Maureen stays with her. They find a room with a Russian Jew and his fiery daughter, Gussie, a union organizer who gets Rose a job at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory. It is the infamous fire at the factory that forms the climax of this first-person narrative, but readers will come to understand the background of the tragedy as well as something of the immigrant experience through Rose's eyes. The local color of Hester Street, the rise of a second generation of Irishmen like Rose's Uncle Patrick, and the many nationalities of the girls who worked at Triangle provide some interest, but the characters don't quite come to life. Those who stay with the story, though, will be mesmerized by its gripping finale and the loss of so many Roses. (extensive author's note) 2002, Henry Holt, $16.95. Category: Fiction. Ages 11 to 14. © 2002 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.

Claire Rosser (KLIATT Review, March 2002 (Vol. 36, No. 2))
This begins as a rather standard coming-to-America story, featuring the Atlantic crossing, the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island--all new, of course, to YA readers who don't know this tale, which was the experience of millions of immigrants to America. Rose is a teenager coming from Ireland in 1911 with her mother, father, younger sisters and baby brother. The baby brother doesn't pass the physical exam at Ellis Island and abruptly, the father decides to take him back to Ireland, leaving the mother and other children to stay in New York with his brother. This doesn't work out very well, in fact disastrously, so the mother leaves Rose and the next oldest daughter behind and returns to Ireland to be reunited with her husband and baby. Rose and her 12-year-old sister Maureen are left to fend for themselves on the streets of New York City. They find beds in the garment district at the home of a Jewish man and his teenage daughter. Soon Rose gets a job with this young woman (named Gussie) at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in lower Manhattan and Maureen starts school. Gussie is a union organizer and tries to interest Rose in the struggle. Rose is more interested in meeting other girls and having fun spending her new wages. The working conditions are well described. The climax of the story, however, is based on the historical event of the Triangle fire in March 1911, a catastrophe that in a way makes us think now of the more horrific event of 9/11: corpses lined up to be identified by grieving friends and relatives, emergency crews doing their best. In fact, the author says, "This book is dedicated to the heroes of September 11--both those who were lost and those who fought to save them--and to the indestructible spirit of the people of New York." Rose grows from a provincial girl to a young woman determined to fight for the rights of workers, to be a witness to the terrible working conditions that caused the deaths of so many of her co-workers at the Triangle factory. As such, this book works well as a complement to any studies of immigrants, living and working conditions at the first part of the 20th century in New York City, or the history of organized labor. Category: Hardcover Fiction. KLIATT Codes: JS--Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2002, Henry Holt, 249p., $16.95. Ages 13 to 18.

Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly)
Auch (Journey to Nowhere) combines a classic immigration tale with the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in this spirited novel. The narrator, 16-year-old Rose Nolan, arrives at Ellis Island with her family, but right away they are beset by obstacles. Her baby brother is diagnosed with trachoma, and her father must take him back to Ireland; her uncle's family, while taking them in, makes it clear they are unwelcome. Rose finds work in a sweatshop and, after her mother, too, gives up on America, Rose rents a tiny room with her 12-year-old sister from the father of a union organizer, a girl named Gussie. High-minded Gussie helps Rose deal with her dishonest boss and finagle a job at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. There, Rose makes friends and begins to enjoy New York, but when the infamous fire breaks out, she finds herself trapped, along with all of her fellow employees (management locked the girls in each day); Rose's friends, including Gussie, are among the 146 fatalities. Fast pacing sweeps readers from the initial confusion of Ellis Island to the horrific fire, while Auch supplies vivid period detail and strong female characters to build toward a hopeful conclusion ("I was goin' to reach out and grab this new life in America with all my strength, because I was brought here for a purpose," says Rose). Dear America graduates will be hooked. Ages 12-15. (May)"

Elizabeth Bush (The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, July/August 2002 (Vol. 55, No. 11))
America’s golden door only admits part of the Nolan family; baby Joseph is diagnosed with trachoma by Ellis Island examiners, and Da must take him back to Ireland, leaving his wife and three daughters in the care of his brother. There’s only a half-hearted welcome from Uncle Patrick and his cool, thoroughly assimilated wife, and soon Ma and little Bridget catch the first steamer home. Seventeen-year-old Rose and her younger sister Maureen are determined to make it in America, and, after a false start in a sweatshop, Rose finds them both lodgings in the apartment of a Jewish immigrant and his teenage daughter, Gussie, a seamstress and union activist. Gussie helps Rose land a promising position with her own employers, and if adolescent readers don’t immediately recognize the significance of the Triangle Shirtwaist Company, they soon will. Just as Rose makes friends and draws her first paycheck, she’s caught in the infamous fire of 1911 and barely escapes with her life. Scenes at Ellis Island capture the intense pressure and split-second decision of a family torn apart the moment its hopes are highest, and the Triangle workrooms are so carefully described early on that the crush and pandemonium of the laborers’ panicked flight is nearly palpable. Auch skillfully condenses sweeping themes of American immigrant experience into Rose’s story; readers ready to migrate from series historical fiction should find it riveting. Review Code: R -- Recommended. (c) Copyright 2002, The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 2002, Holt, 250p, $16.95. Grades 5-9.

Kendall Diane Brothers (VOYA, August 2002 (Vol. 25, No. 3))
Roses appear ubiquitously throughout this story of an Irish immigrant in New York. Seventeen-year-old Rose Nolan's dreams of an American life with her family are thwarted when her brother fails the health test on Ellis Island. After her father takes him back to Ireland, Rose decides to stay on with her younger sister when her mother also returns home. Rose initially works making paper roses, but with the help of new friend, Gussie, she gets a job at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. As Rose is finishing her shift one day, the factory is hit by fire. With doors locked or chained shut, some workers jump out through windows, but many others, including Gussie, die in the fire. Plucky Rose manages to escape, locate her sister, and keep her life going in the right direction. Based on the true story of the Triangle fire in 1911, this novel captures the difficult life of an immigrant in the early twentieth century. The scenes from Ellis Island are particularly vivid. Rose is a thoughtful character, with a seventeen-year-old's stubbornness. Her sister, Maureen, is more of a plot device, serving as Rose's foil and a source of conflict. Gussie is interesting, but sadly underdeveloped. The language--with missin' Gs on every word--takes a bit of getting used to. With a spunky heroine and the historical backdrop of the fire, this book should find an audience with girls moving beyond the Dear America series and is recommended for school and public libraries where historical fiction is popular. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2002, Henry Holt, 249p, $16.95. Ages 11 to 15.


Triangle Shirtwaist Company--Fire, 1911 Juvenile fiction.
Triangle Shirtwaist Company--Fire, 1911 Fiction.
Immigrants--New York (State)--New York Fiction.
Irish Americans Fiction.
Emigration and immigration Fiction.
New York (N.Y.)--History--1898-1951 Fiction.
LanguageCall NumberLCCNDewey DecimalISBN/ISSN
English (eng) PZ7.A898 As 2002
2001051896 [Fic]
0805066861 (alk. paper)
View the WorldCat Record for this item.