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The road less traveled makes for a difficult path for an itinerant family.
Ten-year-old Megan and her relatives move their caravan as work demands. Options to feed their boisterous clan turn scarce with the end of summer, and these Irish Travelers sacrifice freedom for the restrictions—but opportunities—Dublin provides. Those outside of their close-knit society (negatively referred to as "buffers," who in turn refer to the Travelers as "tinkers") bully Megan, though she receives compassion from her teacher, Sister Joseph. Conflict builds slightly as the older siblings question whether to embrace or reject their familiar way of life. The text varies in effectiveness; lengthy paragraphs at times plod through this tumultuous year. Striking reflections, however, yield startling insights into their lives: "If we're hungry there's a building where you ride an elevator to an office and they give you money for food." Traditional slang scattered within the narration separates Megan's experience from those in mainstream culture. Peck's lush, rural landscapes prove most effective. Too often, characters' lids cover their eyes, and little is done to paint individual personalities. The brief author's note and glossary hints at the historical strife surrounding this disenfranchised community.
This portrayal of a rarely visited group enjoys mixed success. (Picture book. 7-10)