Nancy Keane's Booktalks -- Quick and Simple

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Giff, Patricia Reilly
New York : Delacorte, 2000.
IL 5-8  RL 5.5
ISBN 0385321414

(3 booktalks)

Booktalk #1

Too late.  Just a few minutes too late.  Nory had found the courage to ask Anna Donnelly for a coin.  The coin that could save her friend Cat from being turned out of her home.  But by the time she got back to the little house, Cat and her mother were gone, sent to a debtor's prison far from Ireland, far across the oceans to Australia, and all their belongings were taken by greedy neighbors.

Nory was scared of Anna Donnelly, the old woman who could heal a wen on the finger, or straighten bone with her weeds.  They say Anna Donnelly had magic in her, but her magic wasn't strong enough to save Nory's mother from dying.  But the bailiff had frightened her more than the old healer and in her fright Nory lost the coin down St. Patrick's well, the precious coin gone forever.  Now Nory would have to go back to Anna every day to work in payment for the coin.

Daily life in 1845 Ireland is filled with peril.  Nory and her family live in constant fear of being driven from their home by the wealthy lord who owns the land.  The English lord would rather use the land to raise sheep.  Her father is away, for a longer time than in years past, on a fishing trip to earn the coins that will pay the rent on their small farm.  While he is gone, Nory's older sister decides not to wait for his return to marry and emigrate with her new husband to America.  Now there is one less mouth to feed, but two less hands to tend the potato crop.  Soon after, blight creeps across the land, poisoning all the potato crops for miles around, taking away their means to survive.  Soon the lord's agent is at their door demanding the rent.  The family must give up their chickens to pay the rent and the little supply of food they had is gone.  As the days go by without food of any kind, Nory must find a way to keep her family from starvation but she must risk her own life to save the lives of her family.  Will Nory succeed?  Read NORY RYAN'S SONG by Patricia Reilly Giff to find out.  (New Hampshire Great Stone Face Committee)

Booktalk #2

Nory Ryan and her family face starvation when disease destroys the potato crop. During the Great Famine, the great Hunger of the mid-nineteenth century, more than one million of the eight million people in Ireland died. Many people in Ireland dreamed of emigrating to America. This is the heart-wrenching story of a small family as they try to survive the Irish potato famine of 1845-1852. It is a tale of traditions, family loyalty and most of all, starvation. Don't miss this story -- it is important for everyone to read.  (Jeannie Bellavance for Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Awards)

Booktalk #3

Twelve-year-old Nory Ryan lifts her head in the breeze sensing something in the air - a strange smell.  She tried to think of what it was, but, just as quickly the smell had drifted away.  As Nory approaches Anna's house she hears a sound from the distance - someone in the valley wailing, wailing. Someone with a high, thin voice.  Anna hobbles out of her house going around to the small field in back.  "I can smell it," she said. "I've smelled it before. Years ago."  Nory followed her stopping to slide the pail of milk into the doorway.  The smell was stronger now, that terrible smell coming in waves on the wind.  And then she knew.
What is the origin of this strange fuafar, this disgusting smell?  What is this sidhe, this trouble that brings about the death of more than a million Irish people and the emmigration of close to three million?
Read Nory Ryan's Song to get an understanding of one of the most bleak and haunting periods in the history of the Irish people.  You will never be the same.
Historical fiction based on the life of the author's ancestors.  "Let me tell it the way it must have been.  I want my children and my grandchildren to know.  I want everyone to know."  (Patricia Reilly Giff)

(Marsha Carlan,

SUBJECTS:     Ireland -- History -- Famine, 1845-1852 -- Fiction.
                        Famines -- Ireland -- Fiction.
                        Brothers and sisters -- Fiction.
                        Survival -- Fiction.
                        Ireland -- Emigration and immigration -- Fiction.


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