From School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up-In the 1800s, potatoes were the staple food and source of income for the Irish. When blight struck the crop in 1845, they faced not only economic deprivation, but also starvation. Laborers sold their possessions for a few meals. Families unable to obtain enough food for their families had to choose who would eat, who would enter the workhouse, and who had to scrape by as best they could. Relief efforts by the English were meager and insufficient, particularly as the famine continued in Ireland for five years. More than one million people died in a five year span. Another two million emigrated to America, Canada, Australia, and other countries, extending the economic and political impact of the Irish potato famine. Bartoletti discusses both the political climate and historical events in her book (Houghton Mifflin, 2001), and intertwines them with personal accounts of individuals who lived through this time period. Traditional poetry and prose are woven throughout this volume, brought to life by narrator Graeme Malcolm, whose Irish lilt adds authenticity to the recording. A fine addition to middle and high school libraries.-Amanda Rollins, Northwest Village School, Plainville, CTα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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*Starred Review* Gr. 6-12. Through the voices of the Irish people, Bartoletti tells the history of the Great Irish Famine of the late 1840s. Eyewitness accounts and memories combine with devastating facts: one million died from starvation and disease; two million emigrated; the famine could have been avoided; the legacy was a bitter resentment against the English, who owned most of Ireland. The year-by-year political history is occasionally heavy going; but, as she did in Growing Up in Coal Country
(1996), a Booklist
Editors' Choice, Bartoletti humanizes the big events by bringing the reader up close to the lives of ordinary people. There are heartbreaking accounts of evictions, of the Irish starving while food is exported to England, and of deaths in the coffin ships that took the desperate to North America. The text is broken up with many black-and-white drawings from newspapers of the time, and a long final essay includes information about books, primary sources, library collections, and Web sites that readers can turn to for school reports and for research into their own family histories. It's a wonder there are so few nonfiction books about this subject for young people. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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