The Story of the Great Irish Famine, 1845-1850
by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
Reviewed April 6, 2002.
Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001. Available at Sembach Library
(J 941.508 BAR).
This book recently won the Robert F. Sibert Medal for children’s nonfiction,
and the award was well-deserved. Since about four of my distant ancestors
came to America from Ireland during the Potato Famine years, I was already
interested in the topic. Going to Ireland last summer and seeing
some famine cabins still standing further piqued my interest.
I’ve read novels about the famine before, but this book focused on
the horrible facts. This story is sad and terrible. I don’t
recommend it for young children. Any adult or teen who is interested
in the topic will find an excellent recounting of the facts. The author
outlines the chain of events and clearly explains the many factors that
led to such horrible suffering. She looks at individual cases as
well as providing the big picture. As she is writing for children,
she never lets her writing get dry and boring--making it fascinating reading
Did you know that the population of Ireland before the famine was
over eight million, but that now--150 years later--it is only four million?
Did you know that over forty million people in the United States claim
Irish ancestry? At least one million people died during the famine
years, and at least two and a half million left Ireland. Yes, many
people tried to help, but tragic misjudgments kept that help from doing what
needed to be done.
This is an excellent telling of a sad but important story.
Copyright © 2003 Sondra Eklund.
All rights reserved.
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