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Ann and Seamus

Overview


Seventeen-year-old Ann Harvey is one of the great unsung heroes of maritime history. In 1828, off the coast of Newfoundland, Ann Harvey, her father and younger brother, came upon the wreck of the Despatch, an Irish immigrant ship. In thick fog and fierce wind it had run aground. Ann’s courage and strength at the oars of the rescue boat were largely responsible for saving more than 160 dirt-poor passengers stranded amid the raging storm.

Ann and Seamus brings the remarkable ...

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Overview


Seventeen-year-old Ann Harvey is one of the great unsung heroes of maritime history. In 1828, off the coast of Newfoundland, Ann Harvey, her father and younger brother, came upon the wreck of the Despatch, an Irish immigrant ship. In thick fog and fierce wind it had run aground. Ann’s courage and strength at the oars of the rescue boat were largely responsible for saving more than 160 dirt-poor passengers stranded amid the raging storm.

Ann and Seamus brings the remarkable story of Ann Harvey to today’s readers. In a poetic and powerful retelling, Kevin Major portrays the shy young woman thrust into extraordinary circumstances. It is the story of dramatic rescue, but it is also the story of dreams and fate, of a hard life and young love. For also at its center is Seamus, a young Irishman who had set sail with hopes of a new life in America. Ann and Seamus is historical fiction that sweeps across ages and nationalities. In rich yet accessible narrative verse, it draws the reader into the drama of sea rescue without losing the tender and impetuous voices of youth at the core of the story.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Major (Hold Fast) relays this historically based tale of a young Newfoundland woman's heroic role in a real maritime rescue as a series of short poems from two characters' perspectives, Ann and Seamus. In 1828, the Irish immigrant ship Despatch, headed for Quebec City, runs aground near a fishing village in the desolate Isle aux Morts, where 17-year-old Ann Harvey lives with her family. Ann has been watching the harsh rhythms of her mother's life ("My mother Jane has too much/ filling her days/ to ever think/ of singing"), and she imagines a different future for herself in another place. When the Despatch runs aground, Ann, along with her father and brother, rises to the occasion, rescuing 163 of the passengers (many others died) with only their 12-foot skiff, tossed by rough waters in heavy fog. One rescued passenger, Seamus, who narrates the middle section of the book, also dreams of seeing the world. He feels an instantaneous attraction to Ann, who likewise feels drawn to him. At the end, she must wrestle between the temptation to go off with him and her desire to remain loyal to (and safe with) her family. Blackwood's hauntingly beautiful ice-colored illustrations confer a dignity on the tense, highly dramatic proceedings. Ages 12-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
The historical facts are few, but the story woven around them is captivating. Ann was a fisherman's daughter living in Isle aux Morts, or Island of the Dead, Newfoundland in 1828 when the Despatch ran aground. Her father was awarded a gold medal by the Royal Humane Society in London for the rescue of 163 people, but he was quick to hand the medal over to his daughter, Ann, the true hero. Major takes these facts as his frames and tells the story of a girl who wonders what she could ever become, trapped on a rocky coast, yearning to learn to read and to see the world across the sea. It is also the story of Seamus, an Irish immigrant crossing the Atlantic on the Despatch and wondering what life holds in store. When the Despatch is wrecked near Ann's home, she rows with her father through the storm to bring the survivors into safety, then helps nurse them back to health. While Seamus sees Ann for the hero she is and begs her to leave with him, Ann realizes how much she loves her home and the life she has. The story is told in verse, and is accompanied by simple and striking artwork. 2003, Groundwood Books/ Douglas and McIntyre, Ages 12 up.
—Rebecca Watson
VOYA
Major choses poetry to tell his story of Ann Harvey, a young woman whose bravery and determination helped to save dozens of lives from the rocky waters off Newfoundland in the early nineteenth century. Ann was a real person, but little is known of her except for her valiant aid in the rescue of the passengers and crews of two ships cast upon the rocks by storms near her home on the Isle aux Morts. Major imagines the limitations of Ann's life as the daughter of a cod fisherman and how it might have been affected by the arrival of a stranger washed up by the sea. The tale begins with Ann's voice dreaming of a life of more than what she finds in her secluded world with no school, no church, and few friends. She wants to learn to read, to reach beyond the limits of her sparse existence, but her fisherman father and her hard-working mother find such dreams to be a waste of time. Then Seamus's voice takes over. His memories of poverty, hunger, and hopelessness in Ireland have driven him across the sea in search of a new life. He falls madly for Ann and wants her to go with him, but Ann realizes the need she has for the roots of home. The free verse poetry is spare but glowing. Isle aux Morts takes on a life of its own, with the cold sea, the murderous rocks, and the sheer loneliness of the place reaching a palpable reality. The simplicity and poignancy of the story will appeal to all readers, even those who say they "hate" poetry. VOYA Codes: 4Q 4P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2003, Groundwood/Douglas & McIntyre, 109p.; Illus., Ages 11 to 15.
—LeslieCarter
KLIATT
This exquisitely produced book, by two famous Canadians, one a writer, the other an artist, tells about a historic event: the rescue in 1828 of 163 passengers shipwrecked off the coast of Newfoundland. A family who lived on the shore, the Harveys, including young Ann Harvey, heroically rescued the people and have been honored by the Royal Humane Society and are part of the local history of Newfoundland. Major tells the story in poetry, with Blackwood's illustrations in grays and blues interspersed in the narrative. Ann, from the shore, and Seamus, from the wrecked ship, share the narrative, taking turns to relate the action. Here is Ann when she spots the passengers: The sight that fills our eyes and ears/is of a sodden woeful band/clumped in mourning/expelling sharp confounded cries. Seamus is a young Irish immigrant whose courage as the ship wrecks, as the desperate survivors huddle, sometimes flounders. After the rescue by Ann, her father and brother, Seamus is drawn to Ann and tries to persuade her to marry him and come away from the coast to an inland city. The last poems record her ambivalence and final decision. This is not a story for everyone. Unlike other novels in poetry for YAs, Major's work is more poetry than novel. It very well could become a classic for Canadian young people, and especially for those who live near treacherous waters filled with lore of shipwrecks and rescues. KLIATT Codes: JS-Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2003, Groundwood, 109p. illus., Ages 12 to 18.
— Claire Rosser
Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-Written in free verse, this novel is based on true events that took place off the treacherous coast of Newfoundland in 1828. Seventeen-year-old Ann Harvey helped her father rescue 163 passengers who were stranded after a ship carrying Irish immigrants ran aground. Major takes inspiration from the teen's proven courage, creating first-person poems in the voice of a dreaming, restless young woman eager to experience more of the world than her family's cod-fishing routine. Ann's poems alternate with those narrated by Seamus, a fictional shipwreck survivor hoping to find wealth and love in America. He entreats Ann to join him in his new life. Historical details, both real and imagined, make for a dramatic story. However, because the real-life Ann stayed in Newfoundland and married a local man, Major must attempt to explain her choice not to join the dashing Seamus. He has already established his heroine's character as stouthearted and yearning for adventure, so readers may question her decision to remain in her monotonous life. Atmospheric full-page illustrations in somber tones of gray add to the mood. Joan Elizabeth Goodman's Paradise (Houghton, 2002), which is also based on true events, presents a more compelling account of doomed young love and the rugged Canadian landscape. Libraries with either a geographic connection or a high demand for novels in verse should consider Ann and Seamus.-Eve Ortega, Cypress Library, CA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780888995612
  • Publisher: Groundwood Books
  • Publication date: 4/9/2004
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 1,094,839
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author


Kevin Major is the author of ten novels for young people and adults. His books have been published in several languages and include the award-winning titles Far From Shore, Eating Between the Lines, The House of Wooden Santas and Free the Children. Kevin Major lives with his wife, Anne, and their two sons in St. John's, Newfoundland.

David Blackwood has received many national and international awards, including the Order of Canada. His etchings, paintings and monotypes appear in numerous private and public collections, including those of the National Gallery of Canada, the National Gallery of Australia, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Uffizi in Florence, the Chase Manhattan Bank, and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. David Blackwood lives with his wife, Anita, in Port Hope, Ontario. He still maintains a studio in Wesleyville, Newfoundland.

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