The Blue Door

Common Sense Media says

Potboiler plot, but some good history.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Slaves love their masters on this family plantation.


An evil character blows up a steamboat, killing many, and attacks the main character.


A veiled reference that a minor character was sexually abused by her brother-in-law. The abuse is not described.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The main character's despised stepmother is addicted to opium.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that readers will get a sense of what it was like to work in the textile mills of Lowell, Mass., although the slavery on the southern plantation is atypically benign.

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What's the story?

The Chelmsford family saga turns into a thriller as Abigail's granddaughter fights her way back to New England, escaping evildoers, exploding steamboats, and spies. She becomes trapped in the drudgery of her own family's textile mill. Still good history although the plot's a potboiler. Fans of the first two books will want to read it.

Is it any good?


This last book in the Chelmsford sisters trilogy, following Stitch in Time and Broken Days, reunites the family and their pieces of quilt that the first two books divided. Ann Rinaldi she mars her writing with frequent sentence fragments. She strains to concoct a plot that will bring the quilt and the family back together, and relies on remarkable coincidences to keep the story moving.

Wild coincidences abound. Grandmother Abigail forces the 14-year-old Amanda to remain silent for two weeks, teaching her an unusual skill that comes in handy later when Amanda can't betray her southern accent while hiding in the Lowell textile mills. When the evil Nicholas chases Amanda through the dark streets of Lowell he's certain to kill her. Fortunately, Nancy, Thankful's half-Indian daughter, formerly called Walking Breeze, just happens to be out and about, armed with scissors.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about working in the mills. Did anything surprise you about the working conditions? What do you think about allowing such young children to work?

Book details

Author:Ann Rinaldi
Genre:Historical Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Scholastic Inc.
Publication date:January 1, 1996
Number of pages:272

This review of The Blue Door was written by

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Parent of a 6, 7, and 8 year old Written bynagroundz February 3, 2009




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