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Katie's Wish Hardcover – September 30, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Hazen (The Knight Who Was Afraid of the Dark) humanizes a pivotal moment in Irish history in this picture-book look at Ireland's potato famine (1845-1850). Although her grandparents and other relatives provide good care for Katie, she longs for her mother, who has died, and her father, who has migrated to America, where Katie hopes to join him. And Katie wishes there were more to eat than plain boiled potatoes: "I wish they'd go away," she mutters at Sunday dinner. Katie's "wish" seems cruelly granted when the potatoes in all Ireland begin to rot and people begin to starve and contract serious diseases. Certain that her remarks caused the famine, Katie's guilt weighs heavily, even when she learns she is finally to take passage to America and her father. Da's comforting actions and words upon her arrival help Katie heal. Hazen's ambitious tale skillfully envelops key historical elements and Irish phrases, but a few abrupt jumps and unexplained plot points disrupt an otherwise smooth narrative flow. While McCully's (Mirette on the High Wire) Katie, freckled and red-haired, doesn't always look the same from page to page, the mottled watercolor depictions of the rugged Irish countryside and literal huddled masses aboard ship will transport readers to another time and place. Ages 5-up.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3-Katie's ma is dead and it's been two Christmases since her da left Ireland for America, leaving her with her grandparents. When the child wishes that the "plain-boiled and boring" potatoes on her dinner plate would disappear, she is certain that she caused the "pratties" to turn black and rot, seemingly overnight. It's the mid-1800s, and potatoes are the primary source of sustenance for the poor Irish population. Katie and a cousin then make the long journey to join her father in America. This expressive and realistic text tells the story of the girl's guilt as well as the hardships of the times, including hunger, illness, family separations, and the unfairness of the class system. While the earth-toned watercolor paintings reflect the suffering, they are brightened by green landscapes, blue sky and sea, colorful bits of clothing, and the cheerful orange-red of Katie's hair. The opening illustration is evocative of Vincent van Gogh's The Potato Eaters. Her arrival brings with it a joyful end to her ordeal. Readers will be comforted by her realization that her careless words did not and could not cause the terrible troubles.
Shelley B. Sutherland, Niles Public Library District, IL
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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