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Comment: This is a very good copy with slight wear; The dust jacket is included if the book originally was published with one and could have very slight tears and rubbing;
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Maggie's Amerikay Hardcover – April 18, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 2-5-The year is 1898, and Maggie McCrary has recently moved from Ireland to New Orleans, where her father hopes to one day buy land. To this end, he spends his days walking the streets with his pushcart. He befriends a young Negro boy who yearns for the old cornet on the barrow. The kindhearted man, sensing a kindred spirit and true musician, gives the child the instrument. Meanwhile, Mam stays home, sewing piecework to make ends meet. When the baby gets yellow fever, Maggie is determined to help out, even though her father disapproves of her working. At first, she rolls cigars after school for 50 cents a week. Then, Nathan tells her of a job as a scribe for Daddy Clements, an old man who tells her stories about being taken from Africa to America, fighting in the Civil War, and his people's fight for freedom. Maggie listens and learns, but also teaches him that her people had similar struggles. Rich with experience, accomplishment, independence, and two dollars, the solemn girl finally claps and dances to Nathan's cornet and his band of ragtime musicians. Burke's realistic paintings are dark with a muted palette, capturing the period as well as the characters' sentiments. This handsome picture book reveals the plight of immigrants at the turn of the century while paying tribute to the city where jazz was born.-Barbara Auerbach, New York City Public Schools
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

K-Gr. 3. Celebrating New Orleans' rich mix of musical traditions rooted in its cosmopolitan history, this handsome picture book, set in 1898, focuses on Maggie, an Irish immigrant child, who makes friends with Nathan, an African American child in her neighborhood. At first they don't trust one another, behavior learned from hostile adults, but Maggie's Da gives Nathan a battered cornet, and Nathan finds Maggie a job writing down the experiences of elderly Daddy Clements, who talks about suffering under slavery, gaining freedom, and fighting in the Civil War. Maggie's first-person narrative comes to life in realistic pictures; perhaps the best one is the joyful spread showing Nathan playing ragtime with grown-ups in the Storyville community. With New Orleans so much in the news, this book will draw children to the city's vibrant history and music. Link it to Thomas Yzerski's Together in Pinecone Patch (1989), another immigrant story, or suggest Eric Kimmel's A Horn for Louis (2005) for children who want more about jazz. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 4
  • Lexile Measure: 720L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); 1st edition (April 18, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374347220
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374347222
  • Product Dimensions: 12.3 x 9 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,119,421 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on April 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, I decided that I should find some books on the city for kids who wanted to know more about it. So I searched... and I searched... and I came to the rather frightening conclusion that when it came to New Orleans picture books there are some by Fatima Shaik and that's about it. And there CERTAINLY weren't any historical picture books that involved The Big Easy. No sirree bob. Now a cursory glance at "Maggie's Amerikay" and you might be forgiven for jumping to the assumption that the book is yet another addition to the immigrants-come-to-New-York-via-Ellis-Island genre. Inside, however, you will be delighted to find that not only does it take place in New Orleans back in 1898, but it also puts the antipathy the immigrating Irish had for African-Americans and vice-versa into terms that a small child could understand. A rich warm book that talks about overcoming prejudices without rubbing your face in the message, Russell's book is an excellent addition to any library or personal collection with a yen for the historically accurate.

It's 1898 and Maggie and her family have just moved from Ireland to New Orleans. Maggie would love to stay home from school and help the family by rolling cigars like the other girls, but her father insists that she should get an education. Now as a new immigrant, Maggie knows exactly who to like and who to dislike. She's been told to dislike black people since, "they take our work", but her father keeps on being nice to them. He even goes so far as to give a boy a free cornet, just because the kid yearns for it. When Maggie's little sister Bessie comes down with yellow fever, the family has to start making a lot more money fast to pay for the medical bills.
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Format: Hardcover
Set in New Orleans at the end of the 19th century, "Maggie's Amerikay" is a story of two American experiences: Africans and other forced into the country for slavery, and the Irish, immigrating because of English oppression and its cousin, Irish poverty. Although told from the Irish girl's perspective, it shows the reciprocal distrust of two communities, born and reinforced by their mutual poverty, competition, and similar marginal status.

Maggie's father owns a pushcart shop, and vows that his daughter will never work in a factory: The way out is education. However, her mother considers this impractical, and wants Maggie working now. When Maggie's mother must stay home when her youngest daughter contracts Yellow Fever, it's clear that another wage earner is needed; Maggie goes to work in a cigar factory. Meanwhile, young Nathan, the grandson of a former slave, helps his family at their produce stand. He and his mom encounter Maggie and her father, and it's clear that both parties have been warned about the other.

Music, in the form of a cornet that Maggie's father owns, eventually brings Maggie and Nathan together (although author Russell's attempt to make "Da's" gift to Nathan a surprise is initially difficult to follow). A grateful Nathan gets Maggie a better job, one that will use her schooling: Transcribing his grandfather's oral history about slavery. Filled with interesting facts about daily challenges of the poor, the book also deals with much larger themes: Following one's dreams vs. practicality; the importance of owning land, and, to some extent, the similarities and differences between African Americans and the immigrants.

Maggie and Nathan share some experiences, but they also differ in ways not completely apparent to young narrator Maggie (e.g.
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