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  • Written by Patricia Reilly Giff
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  • Written by Patricia Reilly Giff
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Written by Patricia Reilly GiffAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Patricia Reilly Giff


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On Sale: March 28, 2012
Pages: 176 | ISBN: 978-0-307-80983-4
Published by : Yearling RH Childrens Books
All the Way Home Cover

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It’s August 1941, and Brick and Mariel both love the Brooklyn Dodgers. Brick listens to their games on the radio in Windy Hill, in upstate New York, where his family has an apple orchard; Mariel, once a polio patient in the hospital in Windy Hill, lives in Brooklyn near the Dodgers’ home, Ebbets Field. She was adopted by Loretta, a nurse at the hospital, and has never known what happened to her own mother. Someday, somehow, she plans to return to Windy Hill and find out. When a fire destroys their orchard, Brick’s parents must leave the farm to find work. They send him to live in Brooklyn with their friend Loretta, even though Brick knows that their elderly neighbors need his help to pick what’s left of the apples. The only good thing about Brooklyn is seeing the Dodgers play–that, and his friendship with Mariel. Maybe, together, they’ll find a way to return to Windy Hill, save the harvest, and learn the truth about Mariel’s past.

From the Hardcover edition.


Brooklyn, 1941



Outside, the milk truck rattled along Midwood Street, the horse clopping, the bottles vibrating in their cases. Mariel heard it in her dream, just on the edge of waking.

The dream began again: green lace curtains with the sun shining through, a fine morning; a soft voice reciting a nursery rhyme: When the wind blows, the cradle will rock. The voice stops. The rippling in Mariel's legs starts, her toes jerk.

It was only a dream, Mariel told herself, only a curtain and a nursery rhyme. It would hang over her all day, though, make her wish for her mother, wonder where her mother was, what had happened to her.

A quick picture flashed in Mariel's mind: a red sweater thrown over her mother's shoulders, her charm bracelet clinking, her cool hand on Mariel's forehead.

If only she could see her mother's face.

"Mariel?" a voice called from outside.

Squinting, she opened her eyes and looked out at the yard. The apple tree spread itself halfway to the bare board fence, almost hiding the row of houses in back. She loved that apple tree. Loretta, her almost mother, had put a small white fence around it so they'd stay out of its way when the two of them played baseball.

And Loretta was out there now, her hair tied up in a red kerchief. "Hey," she called. "Are you ever going to get up? Want to go to a game today? The Dodgers might just win the pennant this year."

Mariel thought of Geraldine Ginty, her enemy who lived across the street. Geraldine would say Loretta was razy cray, that the Dodgers hadn't won the pennant during her whole life. Bums, she called them.

Mariel could almost see the green diamond in Ebbets Field where someone would be mowing for today's Dodgers game. How lucky they were to live only a few blocks away. She slid her legs out from under the soft summer blanket and sat up, still remembering the dream.

Somehow it reminded her of Windy Hill and Good Samaritan Hospital, far away upstate, with the fountain outside and the rows of iron lungs inside.

She closed her eyes. Sirens screaming, sick to her stomach, legs rippling, jerking. Chest heavy. Someone saying: "Hold on, kiddo, another minute, almost there now. Breathe for me, will you? In and out, that's the way. Here we are. Never so glad to see those doors."

And someone else reaching out to pick up her doll for her.

"Don't touch it," the first voice said. "All her things will have to be burned, full of germs. Shame, such a little thing, can't be more than four years old. Polio."

Mariel stood up, her fingers fluttering. When the wind blows . . .

What did that nursery rhyme have to do with her mother?

Someday she was going back to Windy Hill.

Someday she was going to find out.

She leaned out the window. "Hold your horses," she called down to Loretta. "I'm on my way."

From the Hardcover edition.
Patricia Reilly Giff

About Patricia Reilly Giff

Patricia Reilly Giff - All the Way Home
“I want to see children curled up with books, finding an awareness of themselves as they discover other people’s thoughts. I want them to make the connection that books are people’s stories, that writing is talking on paper, and I want them to write their own stories. I’d like my books to provide that connection for them.”—Patricia Reilly Giff

Patricia Reilly Giff has recieved the Newbery Honor for Pictures of Hollis Woods and Lily’s Crossing, which is also a Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor Book. Nory Ryan’s Song was named an ALA Best Book for Young Adults and an ALA Notable Book.


What could be more wonderful than to write stories . . .

I spent my childhood reading in bed at night and early in the morning, and on long summer days under the tree in our yard. What could be more wonderful, I always thought, than to write stories that could make a reader fall in love with a character and laugh or cry over her adventures?

When did I start? Not soon enough! I was married and had three children. A snowy day and a husband who built a writing room from two skinny closets made me begin at last.

I agonized for weeks about what I would write, about that elusive protagonist that would make my readers want to spend hours of their lives following her imaginary life.

In my closet, I began to see Casey Valentine and Tracy Matson; Grace O’Malley came alive for me. And then the Kids of the Polk Street School danced into my head: Emily who reminded me of my daughter Alice, Beast who was very much like a boy I met in New Jersey, and Ms. Rooney—a teacher like myself who had good days and bad days, but who certainly loved her students. And, of course, there was the school amazingly like the one where I spent my days teaching.

I wanted to show readers that everyone has problems, that we’re not alone . . .

During the last several years I’ve been writing more serious books . . . books that remind me of my own childhood, my own feelings. I wrote Lily’ s Crossing because I remembered how terrified I was during the Second World War and All the Way Home because the specter of polio loomed over us each summer. I wanted to show readers that everyone has problems, that we’re not alone.

I wrote Nory Ryan’ s Song because my great-grandparents had lived through the Great Hunger of Ireland and I wanted to know more about it, more than the stories I had heard from family and from my distant cousins in Ireland. I learned as much as I could by going back to Ireland year after year; I wanted to put it all down on paper for my children and my grandchildren.

And then there was Pictures of Hollis Woods. I wrote that for my mother, and for me. Everything in the book has to do with both of us: the names of people my mother cared for—Beatrice, her best friend growing up; Henry, her cousin; Josie Cahill, her favorite aunt—and the house on the East Branch of the Delaware River that we both loved. Hollis was a foster child similar to many of the children I had worked with during my teaching years.

To tell children . . . there’ s always hope

My book Maggie’s Door is the story of Nory Ryan and Sean Mallon as they leave Ireland to take the long and terrible trip to America on one of the “coffin ships” during those famine years. I wrote it to remind readers of how hard immigrants, both past and present, struggle to make new lives for themselves. I wrote it to tell children that no matter how hard our lives are, there’s always a chance for a new start. There’s always hope.


“I always start each day by writing. That’s like breathing to me,” says Patricia Reilly Giff. In fact, this bestselling author admits: “I wanted to write from the first time I picked up a book and read. I thought it must be the most marvelous thing to make people dance across the pages.”

Reading and writing have always been an important part of Patricia Reilly Giff’s life. As a child, her favorite books included Little Women, The Secret Garden, the Black Stallion books, the Sue Barton books, and the Nancy Drew series. Giff loved reading so much that while growing up, her sister had to grab books out of her hands to get Giff to pay attention to her; later, Giff’s three children often found themselves doing the same thing. As a reading teacher for 20 years, the educational consultant for Dell Yearling and Young Yearling books, an adviser and instructor to aspiring writers, and the author of more than 60 books for children, Patricia Reilly Giff has spent her entire life surrounded by books.

After earning a B.A. degree from Marymount College, Giff took the advice of the school’s dean and decided to become a teacher. She admits, “I loved teaching. It was my world. I only left because I was overwhelmed with three careers—teaching, writing, and my family.”

During the 20 years of her teaching career, she earned an M.A. from St. John’s University, and a Professional Diploma in Reading and a Doctorate of Humane Letters from Hofstra University. Then one morning, Giff told her husband Jim, “I’m going to write a book. I’ve always wanted to write and now I shall.” Jim worked quickly to combine two adjacent closets in their apartment into one cramped workspace and, as Giff jokes, she “began [her] career in a closet.”

Giff explains, “I want the children to bubble up with laughter, or to cry over my books. I want to picture them under a cherry tree or at the library with my book in their hands. But more, I want to see them reading in the classroom. I want to see children in solitude at their desks, reading, absorbing, lost in a book.”

Giff tries to write books “that say ordinary people are special.” She says, “All of my books are based in some way on my personal experiences, or the experiences of members of my family, or the stories kids would tell me in school.” Therefore, when she runs out of ideas for her books, Giff says, “I take a walk and look around. Maybe I spend some time in a classroom and watch the kids for a while. Sometimes I lie on the living room floor and remember my days in second grade or third. If all that doesn’t work, I ask Ali, or Jim, or Bill”—Giff’s children, whose names often appear in her books.

When she’s not writing, Patricia Reilly Giff enjoys reading in the bathtub and going to the movies and eating popcorn. She and her husband reside in Weston, Connecticut. They have three children and five grandchildren. In 1990, Giff combined her two greatest loves—children’s books and her family—and, with her husband and her children, opened The Dinosaur’s Paw, a children’s bookstore named after one of her Kids of the Polk Street School novels. This store is part of Giff’ s quest to bring children and books together. She and her family are trying to “share our love of children’s books and writing and to help others explore the whole world of children’s books.”

Throughout the year, Giff visits schools and libraries around the country and speaks to her readers about her books, and about writing. When discussing her work, Giff claims, “I have no special talent, you know. I never took a writing course before I began to write.” She believes that “anyone who has problems, or worries, anyone who laughs and cries, anyone who feels can write. It’s only talking on paper . . . talking about the things that matter to us.”

Giff’s Newbery Honor–winning novel, Lily’s Crossing, is a vivid portrait of the home front during World War II. Fans of Giff’s Kids of the Polk Street School series who are ready to tackle a more challenging book will love this funny, sad, but reassuring story.

Her book, All the Way Home, tells the touching story of Brick and Mariel, two 11-year-old friends who know firsthand about adversity, and together embark on a journey that brings them personal peace.


“Details . . . are woven with great effect into a realistic story of ordinary people who must cope with events beyond their comprehension.”—Starred, The Horn Book Magazine

“Set during World War II, this tenderly written story tells of the war’s impact on two children, one an American and one a Hungarian refugee. Giff’s well-drawn, believable characters and vivid prose style make this an excellent choice.”—School Library Journal

“Newbery Honor winner Giff weaves wisps of history into this wrenching tale of an Irish family sundered by the Great Potato Famine. . . . Riveting.”—Starred, Kirkus Reviews

“Giff brings the landscape and the cultural particulars of the era vividly to life and creates in Nory a heroine to cheer for. A beautiful, heart-warming novel that makes a devastating event understandable.” —Starred, Booklist

The Kids of the Polk Street School #6

“Humor and trials are portrayed through realistic characters and situations and natural dialogue.”—School Library Journal

The Kids of the Polk Street School #10

“An affectionate picture of lower elementary students making their way through the ups and downs of classroom life.”—Booklist

A Polk Street Special #6

“An easy-to-read chapter book for fans of the series, as well as for those planning a visit.”—School Library Journal

“A solid book that accurately depicts many of the heartaches of the first days at a new school.”—Kirkus Reviews


WINNER 2002 Maine Student Book Award
WINNER 2003 Kentucky Bluegrass Award
Teachers Guide

Teacher's Guide


This warm and touching novel tells the story of Brick and Mariel, two 11-year-old friends who know firsthand about adversity and together embark on a journey that brings them personal peace.

Brick Tiernan is devastated when fire destroys his family’s apple orchard in Windy Hill, New York, in the summer of 1941. His parents are forced to take jobs in different cities, and Brick is sent to Brooklyn to live with Loretta, a family friend, until the family recovers from their financial loss.

Brick feels homesick before he even gets to Brooklyn, but when he meets Mariel, Loretta’s adopted daughter, he discovers that they have things in common. Both are Dodgers fans, and Mariel, who wonders about her real mother, has a mysterious connection to Windy Hill. In the final days of summer, Brick and Mariel find a way to return to Windy Hill, where a kind elderly couple help them discover what they are each searching for–a sense of belonging and the real meaning of home.


Patricia Reilly Giff is the author of many beloved books for children, including the Kids of the Polk Street School books and the Polka Dot Private Eye books. Her novels for middle-grade readers include The Gift of the Pirate Queen; Lily’s Crossing, a Newbery Honor Book and a Boston Globe—Horn Book Honor Book; Nory Ryan’s Song, an ALA Notable Book and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults; All the Way Home, nominated for the 2003—2004 master list of the Texas Bluebonnet Award; and Pictures of Hollis Woods, a 2003 Newbery Honor Book, an ALA Notable Book, and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. Patricia Reilly Giff lives in Weston, Connecticut.



Explain to the class that in 1941 the United States was trying to recover from the Great Depression. In a message to the American people, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “There is nothing to fear but fear itself.” Engage the class in a discussion about the meaning of this famous quote. How might this statement be considered a message of courage?

THEMATIC CONNECTIONS: Questions for Group Discussion

Family–Ask students to describe Brick’s family and his relationship with Claude and Julia. Why didn’t Brick’s parents think about leaving him with Claude and Julia in the first place? Mariel calls Loretta her “almost mother.” Discuss whether Mariel will continue to use this term when she returns to Brooklyn after her trip to Windy Hill. Discuss Brick’s mother’s reaction when she learns that he has returned to Windy Hill. Brick thinks that he can explain to his mother why he needs to stay with Claude and Julia. What do you think he says to his mother?

Friendship–Mariel and Brick resist befriending one another in the beginning. At what point does their relationship change? Mariel wonders why it is so easy to be friends with Brick when she couldn’t bring herself to be friends with Geraldine Ginty and the other kids in her class. Discuss the barrier that keeps Mariel and Geraldine from being friends. What has Mariel learned about friendship? Discuss whether her relationship with her classmates will change when she returns to school.

Brick tells Mariel, “I never had a friend like you.” (p. 164) How might Brick describe his friendship with Mariel? How does Ambrose, the policeman in Brooklyn, show friendship toward Brick and Mariel? What is it about Ambrose that makes Brick want to tell him everything?

Separation and Loss–Both Brick and Mariel are dealing with separation and loss. Discuss how their feelings of loss contribute to their friendship. Brick has lost something more than his family. How does he deal with this loss? How does Mariel’s trip to Windy Hill bring closure to her loss?

Belonging–Discuss how important it is to feel a sense of belonging. Claude says to Brick, “I have been waiting for you.” (p. 116) How does Claude know that Brick belongs in Windy Hill, and that he will come back? When Claude tells Brick that Mariel belongs in Brooklyn with Loretta, he says, “She just needs to find it out for herself.” (p. 154) Why does Mariel need to make this discovery on her own?

Bravery–Claude tells Mariel, “You were a brave girl to bring Brick home.”
(p. 164) In what other ways is Mariel brave? How might Brick also be considered brave? What is the relationship between fear and bravery? Hope and bravery? Discuss whether Brick and Mariel’s brave journey to Windy Hill is grounded in fear or hope. Discuss why Brick thinks that Mariel is “tougher” than he is.


Language Arts–Mariel and Brick attend a summer picnic to meet their teacher, Mrs. Warnicki, and their sixth-grade classmates. Mrs. Warnicki tells them that she would like to assign a composition at the beginning of the school year titled, “If I Could Do One Brave Thing.” (p. 41) Ask students to assume the character of either Brick or Mariel and write the composition for Mrs. Warnicki.

Brick is excited about going to Ebbets Field and seeing the Dodgers play. Research Ebbets Field and write a letter that Brick might send to his father describing the ballpark and his experiences at the game.

Social Studies–Loretta takes Mariel and Brick to Breezy Point and Coney Island. Have students use the library or the Internet to find out information about these two places. What things would Mariel and Brick enjoy doing and seeing the most? Make a plan for their activities at each location.

Science/Health–Mariel contracted polio at age 4 and is left crippled. The conquest of polio is considered one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century. Find out the causes of polio, how it was treated, and details regarding the discovery of the vaccine. Write an article for a health magazine that pays tribute to Dr. Jonas Salk.

Claude gives Brick a book about apple trees. The book is written in French, but Claude feels that Brick can “piece it out with the pictures.” (p. 23) Ask students to research apple farming and make an illustrated book that Brick might make as a companion to Claude’s book.

Math–Mariel’s mother died from polio, the same disease that left Mariel crippled. Chart the polio epidemic from 1930—1950. Make a graph that compares the number of deaths to the number of people permanently afflicted by polio during this
20-year period. What year had the highest number of deaths?

Art–Ask students to bring baseball cards to class and study the design of the cards and the type of information given. The characters in the book are Brooklyn Dodgers fans. Mariel and Brick are especially fond of Pete Reiser and Cookie Lavagetto, two famous Dodgers players during this era. Have students locate information about Reiser and Lavagetto and make a baseball card for each of these players.

Music–The primary form of entertainment during the 1940s was the radio. Loretta is especially fond of the Glenn Miller song “Pennsylvania 6-5000.” Locate a Glenn Miller recording and other music popular during the early 1940s. Plan and produce a radio program that Loretta and Mariel might enjoy.

Home Arts–Julia and Claude have grown apples every year since they immigrated to the United States from Normandy. Ask each student to locate a recipe that uses apples as the main ingredient. Put the recipes in a loose-leaf cookbook that Julia might create and send to Loretta. Make an appropriate cover.


Encourage students to record any unfamiliar words and try to define the words using clues from the context of the story. Such words may include teletype (p. 46), babushka (p. 102), stanchions (p. 104), and turnstile (p. 105).


*“Giff delivers a memorable picture of 1940s America, painted with colorful, telling details; believable dialogue; and crisp, flowing language.”–Starred, Booklist



Ballparks by Munsey & Suppes: Ebbets Field
Information about Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, New York.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
The official site for the National Baseball
Hall of Fame and Museum.

The Four Seasons of Growing Apples
Information about growing apples.


Lily’s Crossing
Patricia Reilly Giff
Separation and Loss • Friendship • Family
Grades 4—7 / 0-440-41453-9 / HC: 0-385-32142-2
Dell Yearling / Delacorte Press

Patricia MacLachlan
Separation and Loss • Family • Belonging
All grades / 0-440-40809-1 / Dell Yearling

Monkey Island
Paula Fox
Separation and Loss • Family
Friendship • Belonging • Bravery
Grades 5 up / 0-440-40770-2 / Dell Yearling

Pictures of Hollis Woods
Patricia Reilly Giff
Family • Friendship • Belonging
Grades 3—8 / HC: 0-385-32655-6 / Wendy Lamb Books

The Secret Garden
Frances Hodgson Burnett
Separation and Loss • Family
Belonging • Friendship • Bravery
Grades 5—9 / 0-440-40055-4 / Dell Yearling


Prepared by Pat Scales, Director of Library Services, the South Carolina Governor’s School for Arts and Humanities, Greenville, South Carolina.

Download a PDF of the Teacher's Guide

  • All the Way Home by Patricia Reilly Giff
  • April 08, 2003
  • Juvenile Fiction
  • Yearling
  • $6.99
  • 9780440411826

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