KATIE’S WISH by Barbara Shook Hazen


Age Range: 5 - 8
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The Irish potato famine of the 1840s, as seen through a little girl’s eyes. Young Katie misses her Da, who left Ireland to go to Boston more than two Christmases ago. Most of what she eats at Grand Da’s is potatoes, not with milk and onion and butter, as Mam used to make, but plain boiled. Katie wishes the potatoes away, and is horrified when they begin to turn black and mushy. Katie believes it is her fault, and guilt gnaws at her like the hunger, especially when Grannie takes sick and they have to sell Pig. But Da sends money for Katie to come to America, and she and her cousin Brian take that cramped and tumultuous voyage. When she arrives and Da takes her to her aunt’s home, her fear and guilt come tumbling out at the sight of Aunt Meg’s potatoes, made like Mam’s. Her father soothes her and assures her it isn’t her fault; words cannot make bad things happen. While the resolution is a bit pat, the famine is put in terms that small children can understand, and they will recognize Katie’s fear. Her grandparents’ cottage, the verdant and stricken land, the miserable trip to Galway and then across the ocean, and finally her reunion with her Da are rendered by Caldecott-winner McCully (Mirette on the High Wire, 1991) in fine soft pictures, a misty-moisty, gray-and-green palette, brightened by Katie’s—and her father’s—red hair. (author’s note) (Picture book/historical fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-8037-2478-0
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Dial
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2002


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