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A Slip of a Girl
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A Slip of a Girl
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A heart-wrenching novel in verse about a poor girl surviving the Irish Land Wars, by a two-time Newbery Honor-winning author.For Anna, the family farm has always been home... But now, things are...
A heart-wrenching novel in verse about a poor girl surviving the Irish Land Wars, by a two-time Newbery Honor-winning author.For Anna, the family farm has always been home... But now, things are...
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  • A heart-wrenching novel in verse about a poor girl surviving the Irish Land Wars, by a two-time Newbery Honor-winning author.
    For Anna, the family farm has always been home... But now, things are changing.
    Anna's mother has died, and her older siblings have emigrated, leaving Anna and her father to care for a young sister with special needs. And though their family has worked this land for years, they're in danger of losing it as poor crop yields leave them without money to pay their rent.
    When a violent encounter with the Lord's rent collector results in Anna and her father's arrest, all seems lost. But Anna sees her chance and bolts from the jailhouse. On the run, Anna must rely on her own inner strength to protect her sister—and try to find a way to save her family.
    Written in verse, A Slip of a Girl is a poignant story of adversity, resilience, and self-determination by a master of historical fiction, painting a haunting history of the tensions in the Irish countryside of the early 1890s, and the aftermath of the Great Famine.

About the Author-

  • Patricia Reilly Giff received two Newbery Honor Awards for her novels Lily's Crossing and Pictures of Hollis Woods. Some of her other middle grade novels include Genevieve's War, winner of the Christopher Award; Nory Ryan's Song, an ALA Notable Book; and Eleven. Her Kids of the Polk Street School series remain a popular chapter book mainstay. She has a doctorate in reading and spent twenty years teaching in New York City public schools, and now lives in Connecticut.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    June 24, 2019
    Giff loosely based the tenacious heroine of this profoundly moving novel on her great-grandmother, who was raised in the town in Ireland where the Drumlish Land War of 1881 took place. In taut free verse, the author writes in the voice of fiercely patriotic Anna Mallon, whose family is torn apart as tension mounts between English landlords and Irish tenants, who are forcibly evicted after failing to pay unfairly escalating rents. After three of Anna’s siblings depart in search of a better life in Brooklyn, her frail mother dies hours after beseeching Anna to read and to keep her baby sister Nuala safe. The girl honors both requests; she learns to read from the local schoolmaster and escapes, with Nuala in her arms, after English bailiffs arrest her for insubordination. Anna’s simultaneous desperation and determination are palpable as she carries Nuala for days, barefoot, cold, and near starvation, to reach the safe home of an elderly aunt. Archival photos illuminate the loss and injustice inflicted on the Irish, and Giff (Lily’s Crossing) brings Anna’s story to a triumphant close. Ages 10–14.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from July 15, 2019
    Young Anna narrates in lilting, free verse her trials, tribulations, and triumphs during the 1881 Land War in Drumlish, Ireland. "Sounds," the first of 31 short chapters in the book's first section, starts with high drama. While outside pulling up chickweed for tea, Anna hears screams and a crashing sound. "Dust rises up: / the house of five girls / and a mam is gone. / They're forced out on the road, / maybe to starve." Readers soon learn that English aristocrats have seized Irish properties, feeling empowered to arbitrarily raise rents and raze dwellings. However, what compels further reading is an immediate bond with Anna. Giff has the rare gift of using few words--but exactly the right ones--to evoke strong and varied images and feelings. Readers will be riveted as Anna tries her hardest to live up to her dying mam's requests: that Anna take care of her developmentally disabled little sister, Nuala; keep the family's home safe; and learn to read. There are several episodes of gripping suspense, including Anna and Nuala's fugitive flight to Aunt Ethna's house and encounters between a bailiff and a justifiably angry crowd. There are also tender and humorous moments. Traditional customs and language are woven into the tale as deftly as Aunt Ethna weaves at her loom. Despite the value attached to reading, it is a different skill that enables Anna to earn money--a welcome, realistic plot point. Characters all present white. Lovely. (glossary, photographs, author's note) (Historical verse fiction. 10-14)

    COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    August 16, 2019

    Gr 5-&8-In 1880's County Cork, Ireland, families are struggling to pay rent to new English landowners and are being evicted from homes that their families built generations ago. Anna, the middle sibling in a large family, must uphold her promise to her mother to protect their home and land. However, when the bailiff comes knocking and there's not enough money to pay rent, Anna runs. Giff draws on personal family history to tell Anna's painful and courageous story. Written in verse, this is a great introduction to Irish history and the genre of historical fiction. Primary source photographs and a glossary lend to the novel's authenticity. VERDICT This is a great selection for young fans of historical fiction who may not be ready for something weightier. A general purchase for public and school libraries that see a desire for historical fiction or address this period of history in class.-Maryjean Bakaletz, Hunterdon County Library, Flemington, NJ

    Copyright 2019 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from August 1, 2019
    Grades 5-7 *Starred Review* Anna Mallon has seen the potato blight destroy her family's crop again and watched her brothers leave Ireland for America. Her mother grows weak and dies, while the English earl's agents drive neighbors from their homes. Her sister Jane emigrates, leaving Anna, her little sister Nuala, and her father to carry on with little food and dwindling prospects. Though she wants nothing more than to remain in the home built by Mallon hands / four hundred years ago, Anna lashes out, throwing a rock at the earl's house. With Nuala, she flees toward a distant town, where they find refuge. Although the family's suffering recalls the plight of characters in Giff's Nory Ryan's Song (2000), who also endured the Great Hunger, this affecting novel ends differently, with an uprising against the English and Anna returning home to stay. An author's note comments on the Land War. Written in free verse, the story moves quickly, but the clarity of the writing and the images created leave strong impressions of the characters and settings. The subtly shifting emotional tenor of the narrative ranges from pensive to sorrowful and from desperate to hopeful. At intervals, archival photos offer windows into the time and place. A vivid, involving historical novel.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2019, American Library Association.)

  • Booklist, Starred Review * "Written in free verse, the story moves quickly, but the clarity of the writing and the images created leave strong impressions of the characters and settings. The subtly shifting emotional tenor of the narrative ranges from pensive to sorrowful and from desperate to hopeful. . . . A vivid, involving historical novel."
  • Publishers Weekly "Anna's simultaneous desperation and determination are palpable . . . Archival photos illuminate the loss and injustice inflicted on the Irish, and Giff (Lily's Crossing) brings Anna's story to a triumphant close."

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