RHCB | More Sites
More Sites
Kids
Teens
Teachers
Librarians
Magic Tree House
Junie B. Jones
Seussville
Random House
Return Home

Patricia Reilly Giff

“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.



A NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR

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.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

“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.




PRAISE

LILY’S CROSSING
“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

NORY RYAN’S SONG
“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 VALENTINE STAR
The Kids of the Polk Street School #6

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

SAY “CHEESE”
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

LOOK OUT, WASHINGTON, D.C.!
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

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


Author Bookshelf

A House of Tailors

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

SEWING! NO ONE could hate it more than Dina Kirk.

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...



All the Way Home

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

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...

B-E-S-T Friends

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

That's what Stacy thinks the new girl Annie is.  And having to be Annie's partner in class is  horrible too. Annie stores her snack in the wrong place,  and she has no front teeth....


December Secrets

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

Emily is stuck with crybaby Jill Simon as her "secret Pal" to be kind to for the whole month of December.


From the Trade Paperback edition.


Eleven

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

Sam is almost 11 when he discovers a locked box in the attic above his grandfather Mack’s room, and a piece of paper that says he was kidnapped. There are lots of other words, but Sam has always had trouble...

Eleven: A Mystery

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

Who is Sam, and what do his strange dreams mean?

The shock of icy water as a boat crashes onto rocks feels real; so does the castle high above him that is almost hidden in the mists. And what about the number...


Emily Arrow Promises to Do Better This Year

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

Ms. Rooney asks her students to make New Year's resolutions and Emily promises "to do better"--at everything. But can she keep such a challenging resolution?

Fish Face

By: Patricia Reilly Giff
illustrated by: Blanche Sims

Emily Arrow may be a poor reader, but she's terrific in math and is also the fastest runner in her class. In October school gets even better when a newcomer from Florida, Dawn Tiffanie Bosco, joins the class and sits...

Fourth Grade Celebrity

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

Tired of being compared with her popular older sister, Casey decides she will make herself over.


In the Dinosaur's Paw

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

It's the first day back to school after winter vacation, and Richard Best is off to a bad start. Who ever heard of a January without any snow? And as usual, he has already forgotten something--the ruler Ms. Rooney had told him to bring for dinosaur...

Lazy Lions, Lucky Lambs

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

The children in Ms. Rooney's room are supposed to be writing about real people, but writing is Beast's worst subject.


From the Trade Paperback edition.


Lily's Crossing

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

When Lily meets Albert, a refugee from Hungary, during the summer of 1944, they begin a special friendship. However, Lily and Albert have both told lies, and Lily has told a lie that may cost Albert his life.


From...



Look Out, Washington D.C.

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

Maggie's Door

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

We will dance on the cliffs of Brooklyn.

Maggie’s Door is the story of the journey from Ireland to America told by both Nory and her neighbor and friend Sean Red Mallon, two different stories with the same destination—the...

Next Stop, New York City!

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

Bright lights, big city--Ms. Rooney's class is heading for NYC! They'll see dinosaurs at the American Museum of Natural History and they'll visit the Bronx Zoo, the Statue of Liberty, and many more sights. They'll  even...


Nory Ryan's Song

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

Nory Ryan's family has lived on Maidin Bay on the west coast of Ireland for generations, raising a pig and a few chickens, planting potatoes, getting by. Every year Nory's father goes away on a fishing boat and returns...

Pickle Puss

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

It's August, and Emily has big plans at the library. She's going to read lots of books and tack a paper fish next to her name for each one. Then Dawn Bosco says she can read more books than Emily. Not only that, both Emily and Dawn...

Pictures of Hollis Woods

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

Hollis Woods has been in so many foster homes she can hardly remember them all. She even runs away from the Regans, the one family who offers her a home.

When Hollis is sent to Josie, an elderly artist who is quirky...


Purple Climbing Days

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

What's worse than a blue Monday?  For Richard "Beast" Best, it's a purple Monday spent climbing a fat brown rope with fat brown knots.



Beast wishes he could climb up that rope like Emily...



Say Cheese

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

Hurray, it's June! The last month of school!



Emily Arrow and the other children in Ms. Rooney's room are excited about the class picnic at the park. Mrs. Stewart, the student teacher, is even going to take class pictures.



But...







Snaggle Doodles

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

April is invention month. "We're going to  make our own inventions," says Ms. Rooney, "and  work together in  groups."



Though Emily Arrow knows it's important for each  group...




Spectacular Stone Soup

By: Patricai Reilly Giff

"You never help people," Jiwon says.

Her friend is right. Stacy can't remember the last time she'd helped anyone! Now Mrs. Zachary wants her class to be people-helpers and prepare a Spectacular...

Sunnyside Up

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

Summertime. It's hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk. Richard "Beast" Best and Matthew Jackson can't wait to dive into Emily Arrow's cool blue pool. But when they get there, Mrs. Arrow tells them that Emily...

The Beast in Ms. Rooney's Room

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

It's September again.What does it mean for Richard "Beast" Best to be left back? It means being teased by his old friends while he's stuck facing the same old teacher in the same old classroom. He even has...


The Candy Corn Contest

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

It's almost Thanksgiving, and Richard Best can't stop thinking about Ms. Rooney's Candy Corn contest. Whoever can guess the exact number of yellow-and-orange candies in the jar on Ms. Roney's desk gets to keep them all. The only problem is Richard...

The Case of the Cool Itch Kid

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

Dawn Bosco's on her way to summer camp. She can't wait for the fun to begin, but when her shell mirror and a favorite pin disappear, it's time for the Polka Dot Private Eye to investigate.

Dawn's...

The Valentine Star

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

February is fun.



It's time for everyone in Ms. Rooney's room to make cards for the Valentine box. Emily Arrow couldn't be happier when Dawn Bosco gives her some colored stars to decorate her cards. She plans to make a special one...




Watch Out! Man-Eating Snake!

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

Stacy Arrow's first day of school isn't going well at all. She was only trying to help when she told Jiwon, the girl with the black hair, that her drawing of herself looked like a cow. And she didn't mean to scare...

Water Street

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

Brooklyn, 1875: Bird Mallon lives on Water Street where you can see the huge towers of the bridge to Manhattan being built. Bird wants nothing more in life than to be brave enough to be a healer, like her mother, Nory, to...

Wild Girl

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

A contemporary and irresistible story from Patricia Reilly Giff

Lidie lives in Jales, Brazil, where she’s free to ride, to be a wild girl, and to dream of going to live with her father and older brother, Rafael, in New...


Willow Run

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

1944
Meggie Dillon’s life has been turned upside down by World War II. Her older brother Eddie enlisted and was shipped off to fight in Europe. And people say that anywhere else Grandpa would be turned in because...

Number One Kid

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

Number One Kid. That’s what Mitchell McCabe’s favorite T-shirt says. He’d like to be Number One at the Zigzag Afternoon Center, where there are lots of fun activities to choose from:...

Big Whopper

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

It’s Discovery Week at the Zigzag Afternoon Center! Everyone writes their discoveries on a big sheet of paper in the hallway. But Destiny Washington can’t think of anything new to discover....


Flying Feet

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

When Charlie hears that special buzz in his head, he knows it means one thing: an idea for a new invention. But Charlie's ideas tend to backfire—such as the flying feet that don't really fly. If only Charlie...

Star Time

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

In the fourth book in the Zigzag Kids series, it's showtime at the Zelda A. Zigzag Afternoon Center. Gina loves to sing and she's determined to be the star of the play. She's already told everybody she knows to come...

Bears Beware

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

Mitchell really doesn't want to go camping with the other kids at the Zigzag Afternoon Center. Sleeping in the woods with creepy crawly things, coyotes, and bears? Yikes! But his best friend Habib is going,...


Zigzag Kids Collection: Books 5 and 6

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

BEARS BEWARE
Mitchell really doesn't want to go camping with the other kids at the Zigzag Afternoon Center. Sleeping in the woods with creepy crawly things, coyotes, and bears? Yikes! But his best friend Habib...

Storyteller

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

A story of the American Revolution from two-time Newbery Honor–winning author Patricia Reilly Giff.
 
While staying with her aunt, Elizabeth finds something remarkable: a drawing. It hangs on the wall, a...

Zigzag Kids Collection: Books 1 and 2

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

NUMBER ONE KID
That’s what Mitchell McCabe’s favorite T-shirt says. He’d like to be Number One at the Zigzag Afternoon Center, where there are lots of fun activities to choose from: swimming,...


R My Name Is Rachel

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

Rachel, Cassie, and Joey live in the city with their Pop, until Pop's search for work lands the family on a run down farm. Dreamy Rachel loves to read, and doesn't know much about the country. Times are hard there,...

Zigzag Kids Collection: Books 3 and 4

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

When Charlie hears that special buzz in his head, he knows it means one thing: an idea for a new invention. But Charlie's ideas tend to backfire—such as the flying feet that don't really fly. If only Charlie...

Sky High

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

Charlie has lots of ideas. Need something to go sky high? Ah-ha! The zinger-winger! Need to launch a cheese popper into soup? The amazing popper-upper! But the zinger-winger zings more than wings and the...


Zigzag Zoom

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

The Zigzag Zebras have been challenged by the Timpanzi School Tigers to a race. They'll have to practice hard. Too bad Gina is a better opera singer than a runner. Ramon has them running all over—in...

Gingersnap

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

It's 1944, W.W. II is raging. Jayna's big brother Rob is her only family. When Rob is called to duty on a destroyer, Jayna is left in their small town in upstate New York with their cranky landlady. But...

Winter Sky

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

Sirens! A scary sound, especially to Siria, whose brave pop is a firefighter. Siria loves everyone at Pop's city firehouse. She also loves to study the stars. Her mother named her after the brightest start in...


Today Was A Terrible Day

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

Ronald Morgan Goes To Bat

By: Patricia Reilly Giff

Today Was A Terrible Day Story Tape

By: Patricia Reilly Giff


Laura Ingalls Wilder

By: Patricia Reilly Giff