In the recent batch, one really caught "me eye:"Small Beauties, the Journey of Darcy Heart O'Hara, written by Elvira Woodruff and illustrated by Adam Rex.
Perhaps it was the image of a small bright bead in little Darcy's cupped palms, or maybe it's because my oldest daughter had a similarly winsome redheaded countenance when she was young, but I was drawn irresistably to read the book the minute I took it from it's mailing envelope.
The story takes place in Ireland, and it's 1845. If you know your history, it is the time of the Great Famine, and as Darcy's story will tell you, these were more than hard times; not only did the crops fail, but whole communities were wiped out and rural Irish culture was forever changed. Such change was also felt across the ocean in America, where many of the suffering farmers sought refuge and a chance at a new life for their families.
Darcy, because she is a "noticer", collects special things; items that can be easily tucked into the hem of her dress and kept safe. It would be these same small treasures, "beauties", that brought the memories of a happier time in their homeland, and helped to bind the little family closer:
"And what is that one there?" her brother whispered, leaning in close. "Tis a bit of our hearthstone," she told them, holding the chip in her palm.
And suddenly the old familiar smell of a peat fire was in the air. They could hear Granny humming to the baby and the creak of her chair. They heard their own laughter as the piglets squealed. And soon the hushy whisper of Grandad's voice filled their ears. "Long ago, on our fair Isle of Erin..."
Yes, this one will be fun to read aloud. I best be practicing me Irish brogue...
Posted under: books