The St. Patrick's Day Shillelagh

The St. Patrick's Day Shillelagh

by Janet Nolan
     
 

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In the time of the Irish potato famine, Fergus and his family left for America. But first Fergus cut a branch from a blackthorn tree so that he could take a piece of Ireland with him. On the journey, he whittled the branch into a shillelagh. Each St. Patrick’s Day, Fergus told his story of coming to America and of the shillelagh that he brought with him.

Overview


In the time of the Irish potato famine, Fergus and his family left for America. But first Fergus cut a branch from a blackthorn tree so that he could take a piece of Ireland with him. On the journey, he whittled the branch into a shillelagh. Each St. Patrick’s Day, Fergus told his story of coming to America and of the shillelagh that he brought with him. Throughout the years, one generation after another passed the shillelagh on along with Fergus’s story, adding their own life experiences. On this St. Patrick’s Day, Kayleigh finds the shillelagh and listens to her grandfather share their history. He then places the shillelagh in Kayleigh’s hands, making her the keeper of the family story.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Between 1845 and 1851, thousands upon thousands of Irish men, women, and children died when the potato crop failed. A million more left Ireland and came to America to start their lives over. Fergus and his parents were just one of the many families that made the long uncomfortable journey across the Atlantic. Before he left his home Fergus cut off a branch from a blackthorn tree. This he whittled into a shillelagh, a walking stick. Within this shillelagh lies the story of Fergus's family. Every St. Patrick's day the story of their flight from Ireland is told. Fergus grows up and gives the shillelagh to his son Declan. In turn, Declan gives the shillelagh to his son Emmet and so it goes, on through the generations. With each passing generation we see the family gain a better place in life until Ryan becomes the owner of the shillelagh. Ryan has made his family very proud because he went to college. There is one thing he has failed to do though, and it is daughter Kayleigh who reminds him. She finds the shillelagh in a closet and asks him about it. Ryan regrets being too busy "worrying about tomorrow I forgot to tell you our family's story of yesterday." So, they get Grandpa to tell them the story of the shillelagh on St. Patrick's Day. In this beautiful book, Janet Nolan has found a wonderful way to tell the story of her family and its successes through the story of the shillelagh. 2002, Albert Whitman,
— Marya Jansen-Gruber
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-Fergus and his family immigrate to the U.S. during the potato famine. On his last night home, the boy cuts a branch from his favorite blackthorn tree in order to "take a piece of Ireland with him on his journey across the ocean." During the voyage, he whittles this branch into a shillelagh, and on each St. Patrick's Day, he recounts his family's journey from their homeland to America. After many years, he passes the shillelagh and its story on to his son Declan, who in turn passes it on to his son, Emmet. The heirloom makes its way to succeeding generations until Ryan puts it in a closet when he moves to a new house. Years later, his daughter discovers it and, at her father's urging, takes it to her Grandpa Garrett in order to learn its history. He passes the object on to her, saying, "A good story never has to end as long as someone remembers to keep telling it." Though not as spare and poetic as Patricia Polacco's The Keeping Quilt (S & S, 1988), this account provides just enough historical context for each generation to be interesting. Stahl's realistic, acrylic illustrations adeptly convey the passage of time for this engaging family. A nice introduction to Irish immigration and the concepts of family traditions and heritage.-Piper L. Nyman, Fairfield/Suisun Community Library, Fairfield, CA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781497644243
Publisher:
Whitman, Albert & Company
Publication date:
05/13/2014
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
32
File size:
8 MB
Age Range:
7 - 10 Years

Meet the Author


Standing on the rocky shore of Ireland’s west coast, Janet Nolan saw the perfect setting for her first children’s book. Janet has a master’s degree in Urban Planning and Policy, and she has always been interested in communities and the stories the people who live in them tell. She lives in Illinois with her husband, two children, and dog.
 
Ben Stahl was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, but now lives with his wife on Prince Edward Island, Canada, in a 150-year-old Victorian farmhouse. He is a self-taught, award-winning artist who is included in The Illustrator in American Art, 1880 to 1980 by Walt and Roger Reed and Who’s Who in American Art. He has illustrated several books for children.
 

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