Monday, June 6, 2011

Historical connections

Recently, CBC aired a documentary called Famine and Shipwreck: an Irish Odyssey and was fascinated to learn of the particularly appalling set of circumstances for passengers of one of the coffin ships, the Hannah. A repeat of the doc is coming up June 9th. I highly recommend it.
Reading You Wouldn’t Want to Sail on an Irish Famine Ship!: a trip across the Atlantic you’d rather not make written by Jim Pipe, fit well with what I had watched in the documentary representing this historical period fairly accurately with many interesting anecdotes to appeal to kids, ages 8-12.

The basic premise has the reader assume the identity of an Irish farmer in the 1840s. Life is difficult and staying alive takes a lot of hard work. The political situation is such that the landlord has all the power and basically would love to get rid of the farmers so that he can have more land for pasturing more sheep. We are given a glimpse about why there are tensions between Catholics and Protestants. When a pervasive disease causes the potatoes in the fields to rot, life becomes even grimmer, with the threat of starvation, the poor house or immigration. Once the decision is made to leave Ireland a dire choice must be made as to where to make a new life. Upon leaving Ireland, immigrants must still survive the horrendous conditions aboard the ship, enduring hazardous icebergs, fires, and diseases all for the promise of a better life in America.

The text is broken into small blocks of information that fit into the narrative. The illustrations are catchy and sometimes humorous. A glossary and index are included, as well. This hardly provides an in-depth look at the Irish Famine and the resulting exodus, but You Wouldn’t Want to Sail on an Irish Famine Ship! will spark some interest.

This is only one in a series of books that looks at various historical periods such as the French Revolution, the English industrial revolution, Cleopatra’s Egypt or ancient Rome to name a few.


Anastasia Suen said...

What a great book title! Thanks for participating in Nonfiction Monday this week!
:-) Anastasia

Books4Learning said...

I like books that illustrate the hardships that people past and present have had to endure. Children today have it too posh. I think it is important that they learn about the suffering of others. It makes getting Playstation taken away not so life-ending. Ok, I'll get off my soap box. :) Sounds like a wonderful series. I'm going to check it out.

GatheringBooks said...

Hello! I chanced upon your site through the nonfiction Monday round up post and I am so glad that it did. I also like books that detail things that happened in history. I was particularly taken by the Diary Series of Richard Platt - historical fiction as seen in amazing picture books, have you heard of it. Some of the titles are Roman Diary, Pirate Diary - you have got to check it out if you're into this genre. =)

Tammy Flanders said...

Thanks Myra for stopping by and your recommendation. I just check the Doucette Library's collection and we do have Roman Diary. I will take a closer look at it. Thanks again.

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