The Wee Christmas Cabin of Carn-na-Ween

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Overview

Ruth Sawyer's lyrical Christmas story, originally published in 1941, and now hauntingly illustrated by Max Grafe, will melt readers' hearts and make them long for a white and magical Christmas.

A hundred years ago and more, on a stretch of road that runs from the town of Donegal to Killybegs and the sea, a drove of tinkers went their way of mending pots and thieving lambs. Having a child too many for the caravan, they left it, new-born, upon a ...

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Overview

Ruth Sawyer's lyrical Christmas story, originally published in 1941, and now hauntingly illustrated by Max Grafe, will melt readers' hearts and make them long for a white and magical Christmas.

A hundred years ago and more, on a stretch of road that runs from the town of Donegal to Killybegs and the sea, a drove of tinkers went their way of mending pots and thieving lambs. Having a child too many for the caravan, they left it, new-born, upon a cabin doorstill in Carn-na-ween.

So begins the life of Oona Hegarty, who grows up to be beautiful, kind, talented and clever — but doomed , as a tinker's child, never to marry or have a home of her own. She spends her life wandering from cabin to cabin, nurturing others' children or tending the sick and the old, only to be turned out again when her usefulness has passed. Then comes the snowy Christmas Eve when Oona, an old woman now, finds herself homeless, hoisting a bundle of donated treasures almost too heavy to lift. With a famine turning human hearts to stone and not a soul who is willing to take her in, it seems Oona will end her days with no place to rest her head or warm her bones. But what of the Gentle People said to live in the boglands near Carn-na-ween — will they let an old woman's lifelong kindness go unrewarded, especially on a white Christmas?

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Editorial Reviews

Jabari Asim
Buoyed by Sawyer's lovely language, a story that starts out with a foreboding tone is redeemed by its hopeful conclusion…This new edition, winningly illustrated by Grafe, shows that talent seldom goes out of style.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Readers will want to pull up a creepie (stool) and gather 'round a roaring peat fire to hear every lilting word of Sawyer's magical and haunting Irish folktale, first published in 1941. Orphan girl Oona, abandoned by her tinker kin, grows into a lonely, ostracized old woman longing for a home of her own. On Christmas Eve, as the legend goes, the wee people to whom Oona has always been kind oblige her in a special way. Gauzy, evocative mixed-media paintings convey a quiet yet powerful energy. Ages 8-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
This is a perfect longer picture book for a holiday family to share. And this re-released classic gains new warmth with illustrations by Max Grafe. The story begins as the Hegartys take in a babe left at their door, knowing their Irish neighbors won't care for a deserted "tinker's child." As the child grows into the beautiful, gentle Oona, their fears are realized. No one who will marry or provide her a home. After a life of helping the young, the old, the sick, and the weak, caring Oona is cast out on a cold winter's night. Magical beings provide her with a cabin, which appears when Oona takes in others who are in need. The Irish voice is strong, but readable. 2005, Candlewick, Ages 7 to 10.
—Susie Wilde
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763625535
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 9/13/2005
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.02 (w) x 8.42 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Ruth Sawyer (1880-1970) is one of America's most distinguished and honored children's book authors and storytellers. She is particularly well known for her Irish-inspired folktales, especially those centered around Christmas. Ruth Sawyer was awarded the 1937 Newbery Medal for ROLLER SKATES, and in 1954, JOURNEY CAKE, HO!, illustrated by her son-in-law, Robert McCloskey, was a Caldecott Honor recipient. Ruth Sawyer received the prestigious Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal in 1965 for her substantial and lasting contributions to children's literature.

Max Grafe, the illustrator of OLD COYOTE by Nancy Wood and THE EYE OF THE WOLF by Daniel Pennac, is a printmaker, painter, and illustrator. Of his images for THE WEE CHRISTMAS CABIN OF CARN-NA-WEEN, he says, "I tried to capture Oona's struggle to overcome life's obstacles. I admired her unfaltering hope that she would one day be granted a cabin of her very own. The wee folk, who bring a magical touch to the tale, were an instant attraction for me when I first read this story."

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 26, 2011

    A Rare Treasure

    Ruth Sawer narrates this story with prose of a lilting cadence that echoes an Irish brogue, lending the tale some character of a ballad. And this is a ballad of simple beauty, the life of Oona; it is a life of hardship and longing, and a testimony to the strength of the human soul to be good, open and forgiving when life might well have rendered it hard, bitter, and jaded. Enduring hope and faith, and the sweetness and wonder of quiet miracles make this treasure a comfort to be read over and over. Andnot just at Christmas.

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  • Posted February 2, 2010

    A wonderful story

    This book is beautifully written and illustrated. It is an enchanting story. I purchased it for the holiday season but it is a story that can be read throughout the year. Not necessarily a good read for younger children as the the concept is at a higher level and a lot of writing on each page (yonger child might loose interest). The message and theme are beautiful and enchanting. Love this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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