Katie's Wish

Katie's Wish

by Barbara Shook Hazen, Emily Arnold McCully
     
 
Katie can't stand to look at another plain old potato, so she wishes them away. And soon after, a rot begins to spread across the fields of Ireland. As the potato crops wither and more and more people get sick, Katie believes she's at fault. Even when Grand Da agrees that she and her cousin should join her father in Boston, Katie still feels guilty about having wished

Overview

Katie can't stand to look at another plain old potato, so she wishes them away. And soon after, a rot begins to spread across the fields of Ireland. As the potato crops wither and more and more people get sick, Katie believes she's at fault. Even when Grand Da agrees that she and her cousin should join her father in Boston, Katie still feels guilty about having wished the potatoes away.

Inspired by her own heritage, Barbara Shook Hazen has spun this poignant tale of the Irish potato famine. Caldecott Medal winner Emily Arnold McCully brings it to life in graceful, tender watercolors.

Editorial Reviews

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. (Sept.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 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.
Kirkus Reviews
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)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780803724785
Publisher:
Dial
Publication date:
09/30/2002
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
8.86(w) x 11.36(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

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