by James Heneghan, J. Heneghan

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Is blood thicker than water?

It rains nearly every day, until the rivers burst their banks:
The first thing the slumbering Sheehogue knew was the deafening boom that tumbled them from their grassy bowers. This was followed by a flood of water and mud over the meadow that swept the Sheehogue rapidly along in nature’s unexpected


Is blood thicker than water?

It rains nearly every day, until the rivers burst their banks:
The first thing the slumbering Sheehogue knew was the deafening boom that tumbled them from their grassy bowers. This was followed by a flood of water and mud over the meadow that swept the Sheehogue rapidly along in nature’s unexpected waterslide. They saw homes of mortals tumbling into the creek. “Save their children!” the Old Ones ordered.

Andy Flynn is one of those saved, but his mother and stepfather both die in the flood. Suddenly the only world Andy has ever known is gone and he is alone. Aunt Mona, whom he has never met, takes him to live with her in Halifax, on the opposite side of the country. During the trip, Aunt Mona reveals to him that his father is still alive – and living in Halifax. As soon as they reach their destination, Andy escapes to find his father. Although Vincent Flynn may not be the perfect father, Andy wants to stay with him rather than live with his harsh aunt. After all, Vincent is fun, and he has promised Andy he’ll find a real job so they can move to a nicer place than the seedy Mayo Rooms. But even with a bit of help from the Little People, Andy’s father can’t seem to keep his word.

Filled with humor and mischief, James Heneghan’s latest novel tells the poignant story of a young boy’s search for a true home.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In an uneasy mix of burlesque and grief, Heneghan's (Wish Me Luck) ambitious but underdone novel opens in rainy Vancouver, Canada, as the Sheehogue, or Faeries, "practice sundry small mischiefs" at the mall. A few paragraphs later, they witness a terrible mudslide in which houses are destroyed and people killed. Among the dead are 11-year-old Andy Flynn's mother and stepfather; unknown to Andy, he has been saved by the Sheehogue, who then follow him when dour Aunt Mona brings him to her home in Halifax. Almost immediately Andy learns that his father did not die a war hero, as he has grown up believing, but is living in Halifax according to Aunt Mona, Vincent Flynn is a "waster and a thief," a "gambler and a drunk." Andy runs away as soon as they reach Halifax and quickly locates Vinny in a squalid rooming house. Sparing no bit of familiar caricature, Vinny's speech is thick with blarney, and he thoroughly charms Andy. As the Sheehogue play tricks (and watch over Andy), the boy slowly discovers that Aunt Mona has been right: Vinny leads a sordid life of petty crime and empty promises, and Andy, like his mother before him, cannot look to him for a future. The pranks of the Sheehogue, the exaggerated brogue and the buffoonlike thugs and lawmen in the background create a strong comic atmosphere; unfortunately, the author fails to clearly link the comedy to the pain surrounding both Vinny and Andy. The effect is more quirky than memorable. Ages 12-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
When Andy Flynn's mother and stepfather disappear in a flood, his maternal Aunt Mona brings him across the country back to Halifax. Andy knows his father lives there, and rather than live with his grim aunt, he decides to run away to his father's. Andy's father, who smokes and drinks too much, lives in a bare, rundown apartment but he has the gift of gab. Andy is so happy to be reunited, he overlooks his father's shortcomings, such as his inability to clean the apartment, take care of his personal habits and feed Andy proper meals. After three weeks, Aunt Mona arrives and takes an ill Andy to her home. He gradually begins to understand his father and accept his mother's death. Andy doesn't handle all the problems himself, however. He has the aid of the Little People. Heneghan gives the leprechauns brief appearances and they provide well-timed comic relief. He never makes them into caricatures. Andy's maturation happens gradually and realistically. The story flows smoothly with fine interaction between characters. Fantasy and reality are seamlessly interwoven. 2002, Frances Foster Books/Farrar Straus Giroux,
— Sharon Salluzzo
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8-Eleven-year-old Andy Flynn is saved by the Little People from the flood that kills his mother and stepfather in Vancouver. His mother's sister takes him to her home in Halifax, confiding to him on the way that the father he grew up believing to be dead is alive and also lives in the same town. Andy runs away to find him and moves into his seedy boardinghouse room. Vinny Flynn sells illegal cigarettes, and is a neglectful if affectionate parent, largely leaving Andy to take care of his own needs. After an accident forces the child to return to his aunt's home, he comes to accept his mother's death, his father's neglect, and his aunt's love. Andy is followed by but unaware of a group of the Little People who play tricks and try to protect him, only leaving him when he accepts his new life. The third-person narration sticks closely to Andy's perspective but provides enough detail to bring other characters to life, especially Vinny and Aunt Mona. Interludes at the end of each chapter feature the Little People's bantering conversations, and Andy's father's Irish tales add a touch of fantasy and humor to this realistic and serious book. While not a tearjerker like Ann M. Martin's With You and Without You (Holiday, 1986; o.p.) or a journey of acceptance like Sharon Creech's Walk Two Moons (HarperCollins, 1994), it is a worthy and warmly written book about coming to terms with a parent's death.-Beth L. Meister, Queens Borough Public Library, Flushing, NY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Heneghan (The Grave, 2000, etc.) tells an engaging and optimistic tale of loss, recovery, and a little bit of magic. When weeks of rain cause the rivers and creeks of North Vancouver to sweep away bridges, roads, and houses, Andy Flynn escapes the fate of his drowned mother and stepfather thanks to the help of the Sheehogues, a.k.a. the Little People. When stern Aunt Mona arrives to take Andy to live with her in Halifax, she reveals that his father, whom Andy had believed dead, is in fact alive. The bad news is that she portrays him as a bum who drinks and gambles when he is not in jail. Upon arriving in Halifax, Andy runs away from Mona and finds his father, a charmer with a gift for storytelling who is every bit as Aunt Mona had described. Andy clings to the belief that his father will shape up, find a job, and provide the sort of stable life to which Andy is accustomed. Under the watchful eyes of the Sheehogues, who also make the trip to Halifax (they go by plane, finding Air Canada quicker than the traditional faerie method of travel), Andy learns to love his flawed father without expecting too much of him and to appreciate his well-meaning and generous Aunt Mona. The Sheehogues play a minor role in the story, appearing only in brief addenda to each chapter, much in the way that they remain an unseen but invaluable help to Andy. (Fiction. 11-14)

Product Details

Groundwood Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.25(w) x 8.38(h) x 0.45(d)
Age Range:
10 Years

Meet the Author

James Heneghan’s other books for young readers include The Grave and Wish Me Luck. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.

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